In an exciting addition to Friday nights test match, ten of the victorious 1998 Kiwis team will be on hand to show their support to this year's challengers. Matthew Ridge, captain of the team which won the Anzac test that year, will join team mates Sean Hoppe, Richie Barnett, Stacey Jones, Quentin Pongia, Jarrod McCracken, Logan Swann and Joe Vagana on field in a guard of honour for the Kiwis when they take run out for this, the second only Anzac test to be held on NZ soil. 2012 Kiwis management team members Ruben Wiki and Tony Iro were also part of the winning team while current coach Stephen Kearney missed the game due to suspension.
In 1998 the Kangaroos fielded their first unified team in years with the Super League war finally at an end. Bob Fulton was coach, Laurie Daley the captain and Allan Langer was selected ahead of Andrew Johns. They were expected to win easily as the Kiwis camp was under significant pressure at the time.
After the Kiwis team was named coach Endacott lost Stephen Kearney to suspension, Gene Ngamu, Syd Eru & Tony Puletua through injury and Henry Paul, the hooker was only able to join the camp two days before kickoff. Despite the disruptions, the suspension to Stephen Kearney was widely decried at the time, the only new cap in the team was Nigel Vagana, coming off the bench.
The Paul brothers became the 29th set of brothers to represent NZ that day and the 15th pair to play a test together. They were joined in the team by the Iro brothers and the Vagana cousins, a real family affair. This was also the year the traditional V returned to the Kiwis jersey.
They were 12 - 2 down, had lost Johnny Lomax two minutes into the game and Richie Barnett was playing with a broken hand but in what coach Endacott described at the time as a 'superb effort' they fought their way back to win 22-16 in front of 25,620 screaming fans.
NZRL CEO Jim Doyle said "Rugby League has a proud history in NZ and the 1998 team are an integral part of that. Their win was an inspiration to up and coming Kiwis. I know our current players appreciate their support, and I'm sure the crowd will give them the rousing reception they deserve when they take the field."
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