Five rookies have been named in the NZ Kiwis squad to take on Australia in Perth next week and the subsequent Four Nations tournament.
In his first selection as Kiwis head coach, David Kidwell has named NZ Warriors backs David Fusitu’a and Solomone Kata, promising five-eighth Te Maire Martin, Canberra second row Joseph Tapine and in-form Raiders team-mate Jordan Rapana.
If selected to play on tour, one of them has the opportunity to become Kiwi #800.
“All of these players have shown exciting form during the NRL season and have certainly earned their selection on merit,” says Kidwell.
“But we’re always looking one step ahead, whether that’s to next year’s World Cup or beyond, and we also think all these players can play a big part in keeping the Kiwis on top for many years to come.
“In picking this team, we’ve tried to achieve a balance between players who are proven at test level and those that are the future of the Kiwis programme. Injuries play an unfortunate part in our game and some of these newcomers will get an immediate opportunity to show they’re ready for the next level.”
Kiwis regulars unavailable for the up-coming campaign include Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Peta Hiku, Dean Whare, Kieran Foran, Ben Matulino, Alex Glenn and Kodi Nikorima.
Kidwell has also opted to retain Melbourne Storm prop Jesse Bromwich (Kiwi #775) as his captain, continuing the role he filled against Australia at Newcastle in May. Long-serving skipper Simon Mannering (Kiwi #731) is also in the group.
“Jesse did a great job leading the team earlier this year in Simon’s absence and, at this stage of his career, I think Simon is just as happy not having the weight of captaincy on him,” says Kidwell.
“But, ultimately, they will both be part of a strong leadership group that set a strong culture for this team.”
The Kiwis squad will assemble in Perth over next weekend for the test against Australia on October 15.
They open their Four Nations account against hosts England on Sunday, October 30 (NZ time) at Huddersfield, followed by Australia (November 6) and Scotland (November 12).
The 24-man NZ Kiwis squad is:
Name Club Kiwi No. Tests
Gerard Beale Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 767 8
Adam Blair Brisbane Broncos 732 35
Jesse Bromwich Melbourne Storm 775 18
Lewis Brown Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 762 10
Greg Eastwood Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 737 24
David Fusitu’a NZ Warriors – –
Tohu Harris Melbourne Storm 778 11
Shaun Johnson NZ Warriors 774 15
Jordan Kahu Brisbane Broncos 790 4
Solomone Kata NZ Warriors – –
Shaun Kenny-Dowall Sydney Roosters 746 17
Thomas Leuluai NZ Warriors 704 34
Issac Luke NZ Warriors 749 36
Simon Mannering NZ Warriors 731 41
Te Maire Martin Penrith Panthers – –
Manu Ma’u Parramatta Eels 795 1
Jason Nightingale St George Illawarra Dragons 747 29
Kevin Proctor Melbourne Storm 771 12
Jordan Rapana Canberra Raiders – –
Joseph Tapine Canberra Raiders – –
Jason Taumalolo North Queensland Cowboys 786 5
Martin Taupau Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 785 10
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Sydney Roosters 755 17
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak Penrith Panthers 794 1