Sharks, Dragons stars in line for Wollongong Test

Catch me if you can: Sharks stars Wade Graham and Shaun Johnson will do battle again in Wollongong on Friday night. Picture: NRL Photos
Catch me if you can: Sharks stars Wade Graham and Shaun Johnson will do battle again in Wollongong on Friday night. Picture: NRL Photos

A number of Cronulla and St George Illawarra stars will be on show when Australia host New Zealand in a Test match at Wollongong on Friday night.

Four Sharks and three Dragons will be on show for the Kangaroos and Kiwis for the end of season fixture.

Wade Graham, Ben Hunt, Tyson Frizell and Paul Vaughan have been chosen in Australia's 18-man squad, while Sharks trio Shaun Johnson, Briton Nikora and Braden Hamlin-Uele were selected for New Zealand.

It hasn't been much of an off-season so far for a number of players, with several involved at the World Cup Nines played at Parramatta over the weekend.

That included Sharks pair Johnson and Graham, with the Sharks co-captain skippering Australia to the title.

While Johnson suffered the disappointment of losing the final with the Kiwis, the blow was softened with his selection in the team of the tournament.

Wade Graham playing with Cronulla last season. Picture: John Veage

Wade Graham playing with Cronulla last season. Picture: John Veage

Nikora (New Zealand), Andrew Fifita and Sione Katoa (Tonga) and Ronaldo Mulitalo (USA) also represented the Sharks at the tournament alongside Graham and Johnson.

The Dragons had Tim Lafai, Luciano Leilua (Samoa), Mikaele Ravalawa (Fiji), Steven Marsters (Cook Islands), James Graham and Gareth Widdop (England) in action alongside Hunt and Frizell.

Johnson told NRL.com he was looking forward to going into camp with the full New Zealand squad and getting down to Wollongong.

"We've got a few games now and we'll recover well from this and get ready for [Friday night]," he said.

"[Australia have] probably been the benchmark of the tournament and finished top of our pool. They got us twice so hopefully we can get them in the third one [in the Test match on Friday].

"The body is cooked, man. It's a tough go out there. You get so competitive and you want to stay out there. I was feeling the pinch out there but I thought our squad had a really good crack. To be in the final, we had a few injuries to deal with and obviously blooding some young players as well was really good for us. So very proud of this squad and what we were able to achieve this weekend."

The 29-year-old was pleased with his performance at the Nines, a format he has always been a fan of.

"The old boy is still around. There's still a bit in these legs," he said with a smile.

"It was awesome to be out there. I've made it no secret I'm a massive fan of the Nines concept and I think it's awesome for our fans as well to see a format like this. Obviously I get to be a part of it, go out there and throw the footy around. And my teammates did a terrific job helping me do that. So it was a fun weekend."

Australia will also take on New Zealand in a women's international match at Wollongong on Friday night.

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