Kiwis opt not to risk Leuluai

Thomas Leuluai will once again sit out when New Zealand take on France in Avignon on Friday, as will Sonny Bill Williams.

Coach Stephen Kearney had said Leuluai would be a “definite starter” when pressed about the former Wigan half-back or hooker’s inclusion after Sunday’s win over Samoa, but he is still struggling with a groin injury.

However, the remainder of the Kiwis squad who didn’t play in the 42-24 win at Warrington will run out against the French.

That means a return to action for Jason Nightingale, in place of Manu Vatuvei who picked up knocks on his knee and ankle on Sunday night.

Sonny Bill, who picked up a couple of bumps and bruises against Samoa, is also sitting out, while Krisnan Inu comes in for Dean Whare, giving Bryson Goodwin the chance to make up for his previous display.

Kearney said: “The idea right from the start of the tournament was to give everyone an opportunity to stake a claim for a position.

“That hasn’t changed because of the performance against Samoa on Sunday.

“I wanted to give him (Bryson) the opportunity to try and fix that.”

New Zealand 19-man squad v France: Kevin Locke, Jason Nightingale, Bryson Goodwin, Krisnan Inu, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Ben Matulino, Isaac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank Pritchard, Alex Glenn, Simon Mannering, Elijah Taylor, Sam Kasiano, Frank-Paul Nu’uausala, Greg Eastwood, Jesse Bromwich, Josh Hoffman.

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