'Massive opportunity' for Affiliated States players
Former South Australian representative star Joel Reddy believes the players named in the Affiliated States team to play England in a Rugby League World Cup warm-up match in Perth will have the chance to stake their claim for an NRL contract.
Reddy, who played 137 NRL matches during 12 seasons with Paramatta, Wests Tigers and South Sydney, was South Australia's sole representative in the 2003 Affiliated States under-18s team, where he played alongside the Northern Territory's James McManus.
The pair went on to forge successful NRL careers, with McManus playing 166 matches on the wing for Newcastle and three State of Origins for NSW, and Reddy believes the players selected after the Affiliated States Championships in Adelaide have been given a similar opportunity.
"It is probably hard to get recognised as a player from one of the Affiliated States but if they can play a good game against England and they are young enough they are a chance of picking up something."
Among the players chosen in the 20-man squad to play England in Perth on October 20 are former St George Illawarra and South Sydney backrower Jarrod Thompson, ex-Manly fullback Jake Busby and New Zealand Warriors product Scott Jones, who also had a stint with Canberra.
Busby, who played alongside Penrith centre Waqa Blake in the Western Reds SG Ball under 18s team before joining the Sea Eagles in 2012, is one of three South Australian representatives in the Affiliated States team.
Winger Jordan Jacob was also a member of the Western Reds SG Ball team in 2011 and 2012.
Jordan, Thompson – the 2015 NSW Country Rugby League player of the year - and Jones, a second rower in the inaugural Warriors Under 20s team in 2008 and former Junior Kiwis train-on squad member, starred in Western Australia's 16-0 defeat of Victoria in last Sunday's final.
After dominating the Championships for the past eight seasons, Western Australia have 10 players in the Affiliated States squad, while Victoria have five, South Australia three and Northern Territory two, including prop Paul Jennings whose club, Katherine Cowboys, travel three hours each way for away games.
"Western Australia always seem to go alright. They have got an established A-Grade competition," said Reddy, who currently plays in the Illawarra competition with Dapto, who are captain-coached by Michael Henderson and whose team-mates include Beau Henry and Keith Leilua.
"We went up to North Queensland for a week to train and then we played a game up there." said Reddy.
"Me and James McManus were pretty lucky because we got picked in the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) squad, which meant that every school holidays we went to the AIS and got quality coaching and training. Without that we probably wouldn't have been able to bridge the gap."
Combined Affiliated States Squad
1. Stephen Widders (Rockingham Coastal Sharks, WA)
2. Jordan Jacob (South Perth Lions, WA)
3. Tusiga Losi (Waverly Panthers, Vic)
4. Ben Taylor (North Beach Sea Eagles, WA)
5. Arana Masoe (Northern Thunder, Vic)
6. Delane Edwards (Fremantle Roosters, WA)
7. Brandon Purcell (Central Districts Roosters, SA)
8. Benjamin Bolth (Rockingham Coastal Sharks, WA)
9. Andrew Jeffrey (Rockingham Coastal Sharks, WA)
10. Paul Jennings (Katherine Cowboys, NT)
11. Brandon Taua'a (Casey Warriors, Vic)
12. Bradley Gibson (Fremantle Roosters, WA)
13. Jarrod Thompson (Fremantle Roosters, WA)
14. Terry Constantinou (Sunbury Tigers, Vic)
15. Scott Jones (South Perth Lions, WA)
16 .Gillespie Fai (Joondalup Giants, WA)
17. Tere Kaue (Western Districts Warriors, SA)
18. Jerome Edwards (Palmerston Raiders, NT)
19. Tiaan Wilkins (Sunbury Tigers, Vic)
20. Jake Busby (Central Districts Roosters, SA)