Kearney delays Kiwi team announcement


New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney is expected to wait until the day of the match before confirming the Kiwi line-up for Saturday’s sudden-death Gillette Four Nations clash against England at KC Stadium in Hull (6.00pm).

With prop Sam Kendry ruled out of the tournament after breaking his jaw against Wales last Saturday, Kearney said the other 22 players all remained in contention for the team’s final round-robin match.

After a field session at the Wasps Rugby Club in London on Monday, the Kiwis will have their first run in Leeds this morning.

“We have some selection issues to consider and won’t be making a final decision on our side until as late as possible,” said Kearney.

The Kiwis travelled by train from London to Leeds today to prepare for a contest they must win – or draw – to advance to the final against Australia at Elland Road on November 19.

Both the Kiwis and England have a win and a loss after their first two games. If the match should end in a draw, the Kiwis would progress through a superior points percentage.

Wigan’s Thomas Leuluai was named the players’ player of the day against Wales after having a key hand in three of the Kiwis’ tries. He’s in line to make his 30th Test appearance on Saturday which would move him ahead of his father James, who played 29 Tests for the Kiwis from 1979-1986.

The Leuluais’ total of 58 Tests so far is thought to be a world record for a father and son combination. Rugby league statistician and historian David Middleton notes the best father and son total for Australia is 35 by the late Steve Rogers and his son Mat, Rogers senior playing 24 Tests and Mat playing 11. Middleton believes the most prolific father and son total for Great Britain is 30 by Bill Burgess senior (16 Tests, 1924-29) and Bill Burgess junior (14 Tests, 1962-69).

While Leuluai is eyeing the 30-Test landmark, a comparatively rare achievement in New Zealand rugby league history, Kiwi captain Benji Marshall has become only the seventh Kiwi to score 100 Test points, his four goals against Wales lifting his tally to exactly 100 behind Matthew Ridge, Stacey Jones, Daryl Halligan, Des White, Henry Paul and Olsen Filipaina.