New Zealand announce Four Nations squad

Wigan’s Thomas Leuluai has been included in New Zealand‘s 23-man Four Nations squad to face Wales, England and Australia this autumn.

Leuluai, who was in the Kiwis side that beat Australia in the 2010 final in Brisbane, is the only Super League-based Kiwi in coach Stephen Kearney’s touring party.

The hooker or scrum-half is also the most experienced international in the group, having won his 27th cap last November.

Utility back Lance Hohaia, who is joining St Helens next season, and former Leeds forward Greg Eastwood, are among nine players unavailable due to injury while Canterbury Bulldogs second rower Frank Pritchard was ruled out after committing himself to Samoa.

There are six uncapped players and nine from Sunday’s NRL Grand Final featuring Manly Sea Eagles and New Zealand Warriors.

“There’s evidence again that our playing depth is building,” said Kearney.

“As usually happens, we’ve had a significant number of players who couldn’t be considered due to injury but we’ve still been able to bring together a strong group of players, one we’re really pleased with.

“It’s a benefit as well that so many of them have played deep into the finals.”Of the 23 players, 14 were in the Kiwis’ title-winning Four Nations squad last year.

The Kiwis are due to assemble in Sydney on Sunday where they will train for three days before travelling to Newcastle for the Bill Kelly Cup Test against the Kangaroos at Ausgrid Stadium on October 16.

Following the Newcastle international, the Kiwis will return to Sydney before flying out to England for their Four Nations matches against Australia in Warrington on October 28, Wales at Wembley Stadium in London on November 5 and England at KC Stadium in Hull on November 12. The Four Nations final will be played at Elland Road in Leeds on November 19.

Tickets for all games in Wales‘ international campaign which starts with a warm-up game against Ireland on Saturday 22nd October in Neath can be bought by going to http://www.walesrugbyleague.co.uk/cymru/tickets.html.

NEW ZEALAND SQUAD: Gerard Beale (Brisbane Broncos), Adam Blair (Melbourne Storm), Lewis Brown (NZ Warriors), Nathan Fien (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Thomas Leuluai (Wigan Warriors), Kevin Locke, Shaun Johnson (NZ Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Sika Manu (Melbourne Storm), Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers, capt), Steve Matai (Manly Sea Eagles), Ben Matulino, Fuifui Moimoi (Parramatta Eels), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Russell Packer, Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Jeremy Smith (Cronulla Sharks), Manu Vatuvei, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters).

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