Four Vodafone Warriors ready for Kiwis
Tuesday 2 October 2012 8:16 AM
Vodafone Warriors Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor and Shaun Johnson have all been named in the 19-man Kiwi squad for the one-off Test against the Kangaroos in Townsville on Saturday, October 13.
While Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney won’t name his playing 17 until this week, it’s expected Vodafone Warriors captain Mannering will again line up in the centres, as he did in the Anzac Test at Eden Park in April.
With Kieran Foran out injured, Johnson made his Kiwi debut at halfback in the Anzac Test and Matulino was one of the starting props. Taylor didn’t make the squad in April.
There has been one change since the team was named, veteran loose forward and hard man Jeremy Smith - heading from Cronulla to Newcastle next season - out with a shoulder injury. He has been replaced by Wests Tigers forward Adam Blair, the seasoned Kiwi international who was initially overlooked.
With the Vodafone Warriors failing to make the finals, veteran winger Manu Vatuvei hasn’t been included after appearing in his 20th Test in April. Two other Vodafone Warriors named in the train-on squad – Ben Henry and Alehana Mara – also missed out.
With Vatuvei and Jason Nightingale (surgery) both out after playing on the wings in Auckland, the Kiwis will use experienced Sam Perrett (Canterbury-Bankstown) on one wing and either Brisbane’s Gerard Beale or new face Dean Whare (Manly) on the other.
Also overlooked was Melbourne’s experienced Kiwi Sika Manu – despite playing in the grand final – and Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who also hasn’t played since the regular season finished.
A surprise omission was North Queensland’s exciting prospect Jason Taumalolo (19), a member of the 19-man Anzac Test squad and a player of major interest to Queensland’s State of Origin connections. However, Taumalolo, who played in the NRL finals for the Cowboys, is playing for the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos in the curtain-raiser on October 13 and he could play for the Junior Kiwis again next year if they have a fixture.
In all there’ll be at least seven changes to the Kiwi line-up used in Auckland with Nightingale (surgery), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (surgery), Vatuvei (not selected), Smith (shoulder injury), Nathan Fien (retired from international football), Waerea-Hargeaves (not selected) and Alex Glenn (surgery) all out of the side.
Each of the Bulldogs’ five grand finalists has been selected – Perrett and centre Krisnan Inu plus forwards Greg Eastwood, Frank Pritchard and Auckland-born Dally M prop of the year Sam Kasiano, who has been the subject of a Trans-Tasman tussle for his services. Inu is set to play just his fifth Test and his first in four years since the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.
While Manu has missed out, two of the premiership-winning Melbourne side’s other Kiwis – Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor – have been included.
Kasiano and Rotorua-born Whare are in line to make their Test debuts.
The Kiwi squad is (name, club, Kiwi No, Test appearances):
Gerard Beale (Brisbane Broncos), 767, 4
Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), 732, 25
Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), 775, 1
Greg Eastwood (Canterbury Bulldogs), 737, 15
Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), 757, 7
Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), 773, 1
Krisnan Inu (Canterbury Bulldogs), 735, 4
Shaun Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), 774, 1
Sam Kasiano (Canterbury Bulldogs), 0, 0
Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 749, 21
Simon Mannering (Vodafone Warriors), 731, 29
Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), 717, 26
Ben Matulino (Vodafone Warriors), 756, 12
Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), 763, 7
Sam Perrett (Canterbury Bulldogs), 744, 19
Frank Pritchard (Canterbury Bulldogs), 718, 22
Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), 771, 0
Elijah Taylor (Vodafone Warriors), 770, 2
Dean Whare (Manly Sea Eagles), 0, 0