The Kiwis Heritage Camp, which concluded on Saturday evening in Sydney, brought together 32 players, including all of the squad from last years test match in Townsville. The group assembled on Friday evening in Manly with a focus on the year ahead and especially the Kiwis defence of the Rugby League World Cup.


The camp wasnt a tough one physically, with the guys mostly indoors in sessions with the coaches and support staff. But on Saturday morning they got out for a playful session in the surf with the Manly Life Saving Club. Nathan Cayless, who captained the Kiwis to their 2008 World Cup win, spoke to the team at the conclusion of the camp on Saturday night.


There was plenty of experience in the Heritage Camp squad through the likes of Benji Marshall, Simon Mannering and the Roosters very own Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Only three of the 32 players hadnt played a test.


The freshest face of the uncapped boys belonged to young Chook Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. The 19yo has had a rapid rise in the sport, from captaining Otahuhu College to win the NZRLs national secondary schools tournament in 2011, to playing first-grade with the Bondi-based club last year. His Junior Kiwis teammate Jason Taumalolo, who was 19th man for the Kiwis at Eden Park last year, was another 19yo at the Heritage Camp. The only other uncapped player was Taumalolos Cowboys club mate Antonio Winterstein.


Tony Kemp, the NZRLs General Manager of High Performance, saw the camp as a crucial opportunity to connect with the players in such an important year. The boys brought a great attitude into camp, said Kemp, and it was nice to see the mix of players - from our senior leaders, to the teenagers, to some guys who havent been in a Kiwis squad for a while working so well together. For those players whove been out of the Kiwis picture recently, the weekend will have been a real eye-opener. But all the boys know now whats required of them this year and theyll also know there is plenty of competition to make the World Cup squad.


The Heritage Camp was a first summer gathering of the Kiwis. It was supported in-part by funding from High Performance Sport NZ. A few players chosen were unable to attend, while quite a few more would have been hoping for an invite. Tony Iro, the NZRLs High Performance Manager, had a word of encouragement for the latter group.


We chose this Heritage Camp group based on our current assessments and also the incumbent squad, he said. We have a long NRL and Super League season in front of us though, so players outside this group will have every opportunity to put their hand up and demand Kiwis selection. In fact, with the quality of players missing from this initial camp I would be very surprised if this did not eventuate."


Roosters Players in attendance:

- Shaun Kenny-Dowall

- Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

- Frank-Paul Nu'uausala

- Roger Tuivasa-Sheck


The Kiwis first match this year is against the Kangaroos on April 19 in Canberra. The Rugby League World Cup runs October 26 to November 30 and is hosted by England and Wales.