The impressive 13 the Netherlands could select if they chose from every eligible player

Ben Olawumi
Kodi Nikorima, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jayden Nikorima

Kodi Nikorima (left), Ryan Papenhuyzen (middle) & Jayden Nikorima (right) are all in our dream Netherlands 13

Over the next few months, we’re looking at the dream side each nation could select if they were able to choose from every eligible player. Next up, it’s the Netherlands!

In these feature pieces, we are selecting a starting 13 to represent a particular country. This can include players born there, those with heritage to the nation or even those eligible via residency rules.

It doesn’t matter where players ply their trade on the domestic front, be it in Super League, the NRL or even elsewhere.

These line-ups are made in collaboration with He Can Play For on X (formerly Twitter). Make sure to check their page out!

So, without further ado, here’s the Netherlands’ dream 13…

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm)

Ryan Papenhuyzen
Ryan Papenhuyzen runs with ball in hand for Melbourne Storm in an NRL game in 2024

Sydney-born Papenhuyzen will turn 26 later this month. He debuted in the NRL for Melbourne aged 20 back in 2019, and the following year was crowned a champion of the Australian Elite, named man of the match in the Grand Final triumph against Penrith Panthers. The fullback – who has represented Australia in 9s format – has 56 tries in 80 first-grade appearances to date.

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2. Jaylan De Groot (Tweed Heads Seagulls)

De Groot – who awaits his NRL debut – can slot in anywhere along the backline, but we’ve opted to put him in on the wing. The 20-year-old has both Dutch and English heritage, and he’s impressed in pre-season action for the Gold Coast Titans. Featuring in the Queensland Cup for the Tweed Heads Seagulls, the Titans’ affiliated team, he has six tries in 14 appearances to date.

3. Aublix Tawha (Redcliffe Dolphins)

It was announced at the back end of May that Tawha will move up into the Dolphins’ NRL squad later this year having earned himself the opportunity with eye-catching performances in the Queensland Cup, where he’s scored six tries in 15 appearances since last year. The 24-year-old, who can also play in the second row, is another with Dutch heritage.

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4. Dakota Kakoi (Parramatta Eels)

Kakoi featured in both New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) and Canterbury Rugby League (CRL) before being snapped up at the start of this year by Parramatta, now shining in the Eels’ under-19 side in the SG Ball Cup. As is the case with the Netherlands, via his heritage, the young star is also eligible for Indonesia.

5. Will Nieuwenhuise (Newcastle Knights – A-Grade)

Ex-Singleton Greyhounds youngster Nieuwenhuise made the move to Newcastle Rugby League outfit Maitland Pickers, and after overcoming some injury woes, has tasted glory in both the Denton Engineering Cup and NSW President’s Cup. He’s continued to stand out in the competition, becoming an exercise physiologist at the same time as playing ‘footy’ Down Under.

6. Jayden Nikorima (Catalans Dragons)

Jayden Nikorima
Jayden Nikorima in action for Super League side Catalans Dragons in 2024

We’ve got a pair of siblings in our halves, starting with Catalans ace Nikorima. The 27-year-old is a Kiwi, and has represented the Māori All Stars, but has Dutch heritage. Very versatile, the Dragons playmaker featured in the NRL for both Sydney Roosters and Melbourne before moving to Super League, and he has 10 appearances for Catalans at this point in the season.

7. Kodi Nikorima (Dolphins)

Kodi Nikorima
Kodi Nikorima in action for the Dolphins in 2024

Jayden’s older brother Kodi, 30, has represented New Zealand on 30 occasions though not since 2019, and we’re sure the Netherlands would love to see him don their colours! He’s closing in on 200 NRL appearances, now with the Dolphins having also featured for Brisbane Broncos, the New Zealand Warriors and South Sydney Rabbitohs.

8. Blake Dowel (Illawarra – A-Grade)

Young gun Dowel has made waves in the junior scene for a number of years across various age groups, earning representative honours in New South Wales’ youth sides accordingly. The powerful prop notably scored a try to help St George’s under-19s win the SG Ball Cup Grand Final back in 2019, and has Dutch heritage.

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9. Blake Barbuto (Sydney Roosters – A-Grade)

Sydney-born hooker Barbuto, a Western Suburbs Red Devils junior, will turn 24 in July. He too represented St George at youth level, one of the bright sparks in their Jersey Flegg side for three seasons, earning himself an appearance in the NSW Cup back in 2020. Released the following year, the Brisbane Tigers picked him up, and he went on to feature in the Queensland Cup.

10. Josh Dowel (Sydney Roosters – A-Grade)

In at 10 is the older brother of our other prop. Josh – who featured in the French Elite Championship back in 2022 for Saint-Gaudens Bears – earned himself a call up into the New South Wales Country side last month. He’s continued to impress since returning Down Under last year, and is eligible to pull on a Netherlands shirt should the opportunity ever arise.

11. Joran Schoenmaker (Villeneuve Leopards)

Schoenmaker was born and raised in Holland, and already has seven caps for the nation to his name, scoring 13 tries, the country’s all-time top try-scorer! His performances saw him nominated for the Golden Boot in 2022 alongside the likes of George Williams winner Joseph Manu.

The forward spent the 2023/24 season in the French Elite Championship starring for Villeneuve, but has now returned Down Under with hopes of earning a contract from an Australian club. Schoenmaker signed for RFL League 1 outfit North Wales Crusaders a few years back, but departed before playing a game due to personal circumstances.

12. Callan Guest (Newcastle Knights – A-Grade)

Over the last few years, Guest has primarily taken to a role in the second row having featured predominantly in the centres for much of his early career. He was at centre when his jaw was broken back in 2019. Five years on, he’s now back shining in the Denton Engineering Cup for Lakes United, and would be a great pick-up for the Dutch national side.

13. Lucas Thomson (Newcastle Knights – A-Grade)

Utility Thomson already has four international appearances for the Netherlands on his CV, all coming at the back end of last year. Scoring a brace of tries on debut against Norway last September, he’s also kicked seven goals across his four appearances so far, and has featured as high up the pyramid as the New South Wales Cup in Australia.

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