Canberra Raiders stars Jordan Rapana and Joseph Tapine have been added to the NZ Kiwis train-on squad to prepare for next month’s test against Australia and the subsequent Four Nations tournament in England.
The pair join North Queensland’s Dally M Medal winner Jason Taumalolo in the wider group, after their clubs were eliminated from the NRL playoffs in last weekend’s semi-finals.
Rapana has been one of the NRL’s form wings this season, scoring 23 tries and making 26 line-breaks, and leading the competition in both categories.
A former NZ Maori representative, he has also played internationally for Cook Islands, but has made a very strong case for Kiwis inclusion, benefitting from his combination with Joey centre Leilua down the Raiders right flank.
Tapine is a former Junior Kiwi, who transferred from Newcastle Knights to Canberra mid-season and immediately made an impact off the bench.
Taumalolo (Kiwi #786) debuted for the Kiwis during the 2014 Four Nations and last played for the national side against Australia in May.
Their inclusion brings the wider squad to 32, with the final touring group of 24 due to be named next week, after Sunday’s NRL Premiership final.
Meanwhile, Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona and Brisbane Broncos second row Alex Glenn have dropped out of contention through injury.
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
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
Jordan Rapana Canberra Raiders
Brad Takairangi Parramatta Eels
Joseph Tapine Canberra Raiders
Jason Taumalolo North Queensland Cowboys
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