Trent Merrin will captain the Prime Minister’s XIII in their rugby league clash with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on Saturday week.
Fresh from playing his last game for St George Illawarra in their heartbreaking 11-10 elimination final loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday, Merrin has been named skipper for the match and gets an early chance to rub shoulders with some soon-to-be teammates before he joins Penrith next year.
Four Panthers’ players have been named in the side, making them the equal-most represented NRL club along with South Sydney, who were also knocked out of the finals race on the weekend.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary, who has taken over as coach of the PM’s XIII side this year, will have half his 2016 forward pack on display, with Merrin behind hooker James Segeyaro and front-rower Reagan Campbell-Gillard, while prop Jeremy Latimore is on the bench.
Gold Coast playmaker Kane Elgey has been given the nod to start at five-eighth alongside Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds.
Cleary is treating the match as an important selection trial for younger players looking ahead to next year’s representative calendar.
The PM’s XIII, who are undefeated in the fixture since its inception in 2005, toppled the Kumuls 34-16 last year.
Selected players will gather in Sydney for medicals on Thursday before assembling in camp in Cairns next Wednesday, ahead of the September 26 clash.
Prime Minister’s XIII: Jack Wighton (Canberra), Alex Johnston (South Sydney), Jarrod Croker (Canberra), Dane Gagai (Newcastle), David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers), Kane Elgey (Gold Coast), Adam Reynolds (Souths), Jake Trbojevic (Manly), James Segeyaro (Penrith), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Penrith), Chris McQueen (Souths), Tepai Moreroa (Parramatta), Trent Merrin (capt, St George Illawarra). Res: Euan Aitken (St George Illawarra), Jeremy Latimore (Penrith), Daniel Mortimer (Gold Coast), Tyrone Peachey (Penrith), David Tyrrell (South Sydney)