The inaugural Under 16s Oceania Cup commences this week. Six countries are competing, with previous International Cup winners Papua New Guinea and New Zealand expected to lead the way. IC08 surprise packets Nauru would also be expected to do well.
Neighbours Samoa and Tonga should be solid performers but have less well developed junior programs than the biggest gun, PNG. Hosts Fiji are starting from scratch but are famous for their athletes and have the advantage of the home ground and an intensive build. In fact it was reported in the Fiji Times Online that the locals defeated Nauru in a warm up match. Note also that all teams were able to get advance clearance to play up to 6 players above the age limit.
Today (Friday) is expected to see the countries gather in Fiji's capital, Suva, where there will be an initial welcome, an address regarding talent pathways, and a cultural bridging session.
The preliminary draw is as follows (subject to late changes):
Pool A - PNG, Tonga, Fiji
Pool B - NZ, Nauru, Samoa
Saturday 12th December, all matches 4x10 min quarters
PNG vs Tonga
NZ vs Samoa
Tonga vs Fiji
Samoa vs Nauru
Fiji vs PNG
Nauru vs NZ
100 metre sprint heats and goal kicking competition
Sunday 13th December, matches 4x10 min quarters except grand final 4x15 min
20 metre sprint testing, 100 metre final, goal kicking final
3rd pool A vs 3rd pool B
2nd pool A vs 2nd pool B
1st pool A vs 2nd pool B (grand final)