Simply amazing. Amazing support for the Tongans who flew into a powerful statement from their fans, amazing the Aussies get to play two games and amazing the Kiwis are the third wheel in league festivities on home soil.

It feels like the Kiwis are patrolling the shadows as the undercard in a final week of matches to sign off this league season.

The Aussies have shed a blanket of talent and experience without Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater but still have stacks of clout to go alongside the curious ability of their administrators to dominate the calendar on this side of the Ditch.

Quite how they managed to fix themselves up with the prime game against Tonga next week at Mt Smart sits in the mystery department.


Every Kiwi supporter who bundles up their passion for tomorrow's triple-header should also voice their protest about the limp concessions from officials who are supposed to be in charge of the Kiwi interests. Aussie, you want to be equal top billing on both weekends? Sure no problem, we'll fill in this round and then applaud next weekend.

After the disappointments of the World Cup, new Kiwis coach Michael Maguire has taken his time to evaluate some fresher talent and there was encouraging progress in another strangely scheduled mid-year test against England in Denver.

New skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak appeals for his playing ability and sensible approach but he'll need everyone else to play out of their shoulder-pads if they are going to avoid defeat.

Maybe that will happen but it is a fingers-crossed, not sure assessment because of the fitful style of Shaun Johnson, Jared Waerea-Har-greaves, Kodi Nikorima and others.

Experience sits with Kevin Proctor, Jesse Bromwich, Adam Blair and Marty Taupau in the forwards but they have the look of a workmanlike group rather than one to deliver loads of sting.

Not that the Aussie pack looks intimidating. The real danger is Damien Cook with his pace and choice of runners but his colleagues don't have any more grunt or danger than their opposites.

Out the back it's different where they can turn to any of their troops and ask them to hurt the Kiwis. From the pace and leg-churning danger of fullback James Tedesco they bring equal threats through Dane Gagai, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Valentine Holmes, Luke Keary and Daly Cherry-Evans.

That's a collection of firepower the Kiwis will struggle to contain for an entire match unless the visitors have one eye on keeping something in reserve for their next test against Tonga.

Kiwi league fans should be showing their passion tomorrow afternoon and evening with the Junior Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns helping fill out a day of showcasing the sport in this country.


Sunday will be spent on assessing players and debating the reasons behind the results and if the Kiwis cause an upset the glow will run for a few days.

That washup will vanish though under the rising power of red-shirted passion and anticipation about Tonga's chances of dealing to the Aussies and as that euphoria escalates Kiwi league fans should be asking much better from those in charge of their sport.