Kiwis to welcome new blood for Four Nations
NEW Zealand selectors have named four rookies in the squad to contest the Four Nations tournament which starts with a clash between Australia and the Kiwis in Brisbane on October 25.
Emerging Penrith winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Cronulla utility Sosaia Feki, barnstorming North Queensland second-rower Jason Taumalolo and Warriors prop Suaia Matagi are the newcomers in a 24-man squad. Penrith utility Lewis Brown also returns for the first time since 2011.
It will be Taumalolo's first experience on the field with the Kiwis after he was a non-playing member of the 2012 Anzac Test squad.
Watene-Zelezniak earned his spot after an outstanding debut season for the Panthers, producing seven tries in 10 appearances and helped his injury-riddled side deep into the NRL playoffs.
Feki and Matagi get their chances thanks to the withdrawals of Sydney Roosters teammates Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, both citing burnout after a long season.
Brown has played five Tests for his country and has reclaimed his spot in the side with consistently strong performances for the Panthers.
Coach Stephen Kearney said he was excited about the team's chances in the event, but added it would be another stepping stone toward the 2017 World Cup.
"After our World Cup disappointment last year, I think we made some very positive strides at this year's Anzac Test. We get a few older heads back for this campaign - they will provide some experience, and hopefully will feed off the energy and passion from those younger guys," Kearney said.
The Kiwis will assemble on the Gold Coast on October 18.
SQUAD: Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, Sosaia Feki, Kieran Foran, Tohu Harris, Siliva Havili, Peta Hiku, Shaun Johnson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Suaia Matagi, Sam Moa, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Proctor, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Manu Vatuvei, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dean Whare.