Junior Kiwi James Fisher-Harris has earned a spot on the NZ Kiwis training squad for next month’s test against Australia in Perth and the subsequent Four Nations Tournament in England.
The Penrith Panthers forward was named to the national U20 side in May, but had to withdraw from their encounter with the Junior Kangaroos through injury. He took the field for Junior Kiwis in the same fixture last year.
Hailing from the Northland town of Rawene, Fisher-Harris enjoyed a break-through season with the Panthers, taking advantage of injuries to cement a spot in the first-grade line-up.
Penrith were eliminated from the NRL playoffs by Canberra Raiders last weekend, ushering Fisher-Harris, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Suaia Matagi and Te Maire Martin into the national squad.
After two previous false starts, DWZ finally made his Kiwis debut in May, while Matagi was part of the triumphant 2014 Four Nations campaign, coming off the bench against Samoa.
Like Fisher-Harris, five-eighth Martin also stepped up to first grade this season, but missed Penrith’s run to the playoffs with a shoulder injury.
Joining them in the wider group are Brisbane Broncos Adam Blair, Alex Glenn and Jordan Kahu, who were ousted from the premiership race by North Queensland Cowboys in a rematch of last season’s grand finalists.
All three were named for the May test against Australia, but Glenn withdrew with a calf injury. Blair co-captained the Kiwis in England last year and Kahu’s ability to play a variety of positions has proven valuable since debuting on that same tour.
Vodafone Warriors prop Ben Matulino has withdrawn from contention for off-season surgery, while new coach David Kidwell has added Warriors hooker/second row Jazz Tevaga.
The latest inclusions brings the current squad to 31, with more to come after next weekend’s NRL semi-finals.
The final touring squad of 24 will be named during the week after the NRL Premiership Grand Final on October 2.
The Kiwis face Australia on October 15 and kick off their Four Nations title defence against hosts England on October 29.
The current NZ Kiwis train-on squad is:
Adam Blair Brisbane Broncos
Lewis Brown Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Greg Eastwood Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
James Fisher-Harris Penrith Panthers
Addin Fonua-Blake Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
David Fusitu’a NZ Warriors
Alex Glenn Brisbane Broncos
Shaun Johnson NZ Warriors
Jordan Kahu Brisbane Broncos
Solomone Kata NZ Warriors
Shaun Kenny-Dowall Sydney Roosters
Thomas Leuluai NZ Warriors
Sam Lisone NZ Warriors
Isaac Liu Sydney Roosters
Tuimoala Lolohea NZ Warriors
Issac Luke NZ Warriors
Simon Mannering NZ Warriors
Te Maire Martin Penith Panthers
Suaia Matagi Penrith Panthers
Manu Ma’u Parramatta Eels
Sam Moa Sydney Roosters
Jason Nightingale St George Illawarra Dragons
Tim Simona Wests Tigers
Brad Takairangi Parramatta Eels
Martin Taupau Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Elijah Taylor Wests Tigers
Jazz Tevaga NZ Warriors
Bodene Thompson NZ Warriors
Manu Vatuvei NZ Warriors
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Sydney Roosters
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak Penrith Panthers