The sixth, annual Griffin Cup takes place in Rotterdam tomorrow (Saturday) with the Netherlands looking to hold on to the trophy after winning it for the first time last year, when they defeated Germany 30-18 in Osnabruck.
The Germans arrive in buoyant mood after a superb win in the 2021 World Cup qualifiers last weekend, defeating the Czech Republic 24-4.
“Everyone is looking forward to our first international fixture of the year,” said Netherlands head coach Kane Krlic. “Coming off the back of a great NRLB Championship, the boys are all keen to go out and represent their country.
“We have a great relationship with the German Rugby League and both governing bodies believe that the more we can work together, the stronger both nations will be. There are a few German players in the Dutch Championship but come match day we will put all friendships aside for 80 minutes.
“Last season we won our first Test match in 11 years bringing the Griffin Cup home but after their great result last week,” he added, “we know Germany will be coming over full of confidence. What excites me the most is how young our squad is. It’s pleasing to see players like Ruben Stuifzand and Ari-Tjerk Schultz who have come through the Netherlands Rugby League school development programme to the national set up.
“They have now been in this environment for three years and you can see in training that they’ve taken a massive step forward this year and look more comfortable and vocal in the sessions, yet both are still only 20. Coventry Bears’ James Geurtjens’ experience is invaluable in helping our young players develop. He has recently announced that this his is final year and he wants to finish his career doing all he can to help us in the Netherlands.”
Teenagers Liam Bons and Alex Leers from Steeden BundesLeague champions Karlshöfen Moorteufel make their debuts for Germany, as do Mazlum Akbayrak, Sven Guderian, Max Keller and Raphael Tokona.
“We have decided to give some players who missed out on playing against the Czech Republic last week a chance to show what they can do,” noted Germany co-coach Bob Doughton. “All the players chosen have played in the domestic competition this year, including Daniel Pearson who guested for Moorteufel.
“There will be some changes for our World Cup game against Norway, there is a battle for places and Liam and Alex are potential future stars. We are expecting a tough game that will test our players in many areas. The Dutch are very well organized and we want to win back the Griffin Cup that we lost for the first time last year”.
NRLB 19-MAN SQUAD : Adam Braksator, Daan van Rossum, Joran Schoenmaker, David Bos (Amsterdam Cobras) James Geurtjens (Coventry Bears) Paul Dirkzwager, Lucas Gout, Robbin van Wijk, Bonne Wilce (Den Haag Knights) Daniel de Ruiter, Arie-Tjerk Schultz, Ruben Stuifzand, (Harderwijk Dolphins) Hannes Bavius, Ben Dommerhuisjen, Patrick Funk, Shadan Lavia, Isaac Ngirubiu, Dominic Stuivenberg, Emerson de Werk (Rotterdam Pitbulls)
GERMANY 19-MAN SQUAD : Martin Apostel, Benedikt Esser, David Ziekursch, Marc Zupan (Green Hill Hunters), Liam Bons, Florian Frede, Jannek Hagenah, Alex Leers, Maurice Verstraaten (Karlshöfen Moorteufel), Liam Doughton, Vivi Seelweger, Sebastian Peter (Ruhrpott Rhinos), Daniel Pearson (Sherwood Wolfhunt RLFC) Mazlum Akbayrak, Zak Bredin, Sven Guderian, Phil Hunz, Max Keller, Raphael Tokona (Westfalen Warriors)