Blair and Luke to lead Kiwi squad to England

New Zealand have announced their 23-man squad for the forthcoming Test series against England, with Adam Blair and Isaac Luke named as co-captains.

The Kiwis have been hit by a long list of absentees due to illness and injury. Simon Mannering withdrew earlier this week, while the group is also missing halfbacks Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran are also absent.

Six new Kiwis are also included in a New Zealand squad for the first time. These are: utility backs Jordan Kahu and Tuimoala Lolohea, wing Curtis Rona, hooker/half Kodi Nikorima and forwards Isaac Liu and Sio Siua Taukeiaho.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney believes that Blair and Luke are the ideal choices to lead the squad.

“I think, in big games, he has delivered for us before,” Kearney said of Blair.

“He’s been in the programme for quite some time and knows what’s expected – I see it as a natural choice.

“Issac is very highly respected within the group and, again, has been part of the programme for a long time.

“He’s definitely one that’s grown over the course of his Kiwis career, both as a footballer and a leader.”

Kearney is not happy to have his choices restricted by injury, but still believes his squad is packed with international quality.

“There’s nothing we can do about the players that are unavailable,” he added.

“They’re all injuries that we have no control over, but they give opportunities to some younger guys, who perhaps only need that opportunity to rise to the next level.”

Gerard Beale (Sharks), Adam Blair (Broncos), Jesse Bromwich (Storm), Lewis Brown (Panthers), Alex Glenn (Broncos), Tohu Harris (Storm), Peta Hiku (Sea Eagles), Jordan Kahu (Broncos), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roosters), Tuimoala Lolohea (Warriors), Isaac Liu (Roosters), Issac Luke (Rabbitohs), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Sam Moa (Roosters), Jason Nightingale (Dragons), Kodi Nikorima (Broncos), Kevin Proctor (Storm), Curtis Rona (Bulldogs), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Roosters), Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Roosters), Dean Whare (Panthers)

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