Kiwis name five rookies for Tests
RUGBY LEAGUE: Jesse Bromwich will captain a new-look Kiwis squad containing five rookies for next week's Test against Australia in Perth and the subsequent Four Nations tournament in the UK.
New coach David Kidwell has stamped his mark on the side, naming Warriors backs David Fusitu'a and Solomone Kata, Penrith playmaker Te Maire Martin and Canberra pair of back-rower Joseph Tapine and in-form wing Jordan Rapana.
Former Kiwis captain Simon Mannering is included in the 24-man squad but Kidwell opted to retain Bromwich as skipper after he led the side in the 16-0 Trans-Tasman Test defeat to the Kangaroos in Newcastle in May.
"Jesse did a great job leading the team in Simon's absence and, at this stage of his career, Simon is just as happy not having the weight of captaincy on him,” Kidwell said.
"But, ultimately, they will both be part of a strong leadership group that set a strong culture for this team.”
Kidwell, in his first time in charge of the national side since being named as Stephen Kearney's successor a fortnight ago, said the selections were made with an eye towards developing players ahead of next year's World Cup.
Veteran wing Manu Vatuvei is a notable non-selection, while several other uncapped players such as young Panthers back-rower James Fisher-Harris and dual New Zealand and Australia eligible pair of Cowboys rookie Kalyn Ponga and Storm wing Suliasi Vunivalu were considered but ultimately overlooked.
"All of these players have shown exciting form during the NRL season and have certainly earned their selection on merit,” Kidwell said.
"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 program. 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.”
Several Kiwis regulars were unavailable through injury including Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Peta Hiku, Dean Whare, Kieran Foran, Ben Matulino, Alex Glenn and Kodi Nikorima.
The Kiwis squad will assemble in Perth over next weekend for the Test against Australia at nib Stadium on October 15.
They open their Four Nations against hosts England on October 30 at Huddersfield, before games against Australia on November 6 and Scotland on November 12.
Kiwis squad: Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, David Fusitu'a, Tohu Harris, Shaun Johnson, Jordan Kahu, Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Te Maire Martin, Manu Ma'u, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.