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PM's XIII squads announced: Graham, Brown to lead youthful sides

A host of emerging NRL and NRLW stars have been recognised with selection in this year's PM's XIII teams to face Fiji.

After showing a keen interest last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison - a Cronulla Sharks tragic - was again heavily involved in helping men's coach Mal Meninga and women's mentor Brad Donald pick the players for the clash in Suva on October 11. 

Sharks back-rower Wade Graham will captain the men's team and is one of five players to have represented Australia.

Twelve PM's XIII debutants have been picked including Payne Haas, David Fifita, Thomas Flegler, Reuben Garrick and Reed Mahoney.

Ben Hunt will play hooker with Cody Walker and Mitchell Moses named in the halves. It shapes as an audition for Hunt to prove to Meninga that he deserves to retain his bench dummy-half role for the Kangaroos.

The game is the first time the men's and women's PM's XIII sides have played in Fiji.

“The Prime Minister’s XIII match is a key match in the representative calendar for a number of reasons,” Meninga said.

“It’s part of the representative pathway that rewards the players' strong performances from the premiership season, as well as showcasing the positive impact rugby league has for communities throughout the Pacific.

“The Prime Minister and I had some discussions recently about the make up of the side and believe we’ve struck a solid balance of youth and experience for next Friday’s fixture in Suva.”

Sydney Roosters and Queensland representative Karina Brown will skipper the women's outfit.

Coach Brad Donald expects the fixture to highlight some future NRLW players.

“We had 13 players from last year’s PM’s XIII women’s squad play in the NRLW this year, which shows the elite pathway is truly working,” Donald said.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for these women to be on show, empowering communities and women throughout to the Pacific both on and off the field.”

Morrison felt it was integral to combine youth and experience in both teams.

“This year’s Prime Minister’s XIII squads focus on youth and experience,” the Prime Minister said.

“I wanted bring together veterans who have served the game well over a number of years with the brightest young talents that have come onto the rugby league scene.

“Mal, Brad and I are confident that we’ve come up with two really strong and well-balanced teams and I’m looking forward to seeing them in action in Fiji.

“And just as importantly as the games is that players, coaches and officials from both teams will be utilising their visit to spread the message of our domestic and family violence campaigns.”

Roosters veteran Karina Brown.
Roosters veteran Karina Brown. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos
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