Kiwis include new names in Four Nations squad

New Zealand have called up some fresh names to their Four Nations squad, with four test rookies included.

They are Penrith Panthers winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Cronulla Sharks utility man Sosaia Feki, North Queensland Cowboys second-row Jason Taumalolo, and New Zealand Warriors prop Suaia Matagi.

Sydney Roosters team-mates Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are missing thanks to the burnout suffered in a long season.

Other famous names who are not available include Konrad Hurrell, who played for Tonga at last year’s World Cup, as well as  his New Zealand Warriros team-mate Ben Matulino and Sam McKendry of Penrith Panthers.

The 24-man squad is still packed with formidable talents, however.

“We’re really excited for the new players coming in for their first time or, in Jason Taumalolo‘s case, another chance to earn his first cap,” Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney said.

“They’ve all had great seasons in the NRL, and this will be a chance for them to show they can step up and contribute at the next level.

“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.

“It’s always disappointing to lose players this way, but this is a tough game and you have to expect a certain amount of attrition at the end of any season.

“You have to take a longer-term view of these things – it’s important they get themselves right and come back to us when they can.

“We’re very focused on building a team and culture that will see us challenge for the next Rugby League World Cup in 2017, so these new players now have a chance to become part of that long-term process.”

NEW ZEALAND SQUAD:

Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Siliva Havili (Vodafone Warriors), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Shaun Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), Thomas Leuluai (Vodafone Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (Vodafone Warriors), Suaia Matagi (Vodafone Warriors), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys),
Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)

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