Eight Vodafone Warriors in train-on squad

Captain Simon Mannering is joined by seven other Vodafone Warriors team-mates in first group of players named in the Kiwis' train-on squad for the Rugby League World Cup. Photo: Photosport


Eight Vodafone Warriors are among 17 players named in the train-on squad to prepare for the Kiwis 2013 Rugby League World Cup campaign.


Captain Simon Mannering is joined by fullback Kevin Locke, winger Manu Vatuvei, standoff Thomas Leuluai, halfback Shaun Johnson, props Ben Matulino and Sam Rapira plus Elijah Taylor.


The squad was chosen from the eight clubs that wont feature in the NRL play-offs this year, being the Gold Coast Titans, Penrith Panthers, Vodafone Warriors, Brisbane Broncos, Canberra Raiders, St George Illawarra Dragons, Wests Tigers and the Parramatta Eels.


The national selectors - Richie Barnett, Ivan Cleary, Stephen Kearney and Tawera Nikau - along with the convenor of selectors Tony Iro, will add to the squad in the coming weeks as teams are eliminated from the NRL finals.


Former Kiwi captain Benji Marshall was not considered for selection, with Iro confirming that Marshall informed the selectors that his impending move to rugby union would rule him out of the tournament.


Were naturally disappointed to not have Benji available for World Cup selection, said Iro.


But we understand the circumstances and wish him well. Hell always be a Kiwi brother and he has done wonders not only for rugby league in New Zealand, but the game in general.


Benji stood proud as a New Zealander at a time when there was plenty of interest in convincing him to commit elsewhere. His dedication to his country set an example to those coming through. He was a key part of the Kiwis team that won New Zealands first ever Rugby League World Cup in 2008 and he followed that up with a starring role, as captain, in our 2010 Four Nations win. Hell be missed, but we believe we have players in the halves that are ready to deliver in this World Cup tournament.


Benji Marshall (Kiwi #717) debuted for the Kiwis in the 2005 ANZAC Test and has played 27 Tests, including a record-equalling 19 as captain.


2013 KIWIS TRAIN-ON SQUAD (at September 11):


Brisbane Broncos: Alex Glenn, Josh Hoffman

St George Illawarra Dragons: Bronson Harrison, Jason Nightingale

Penrith Panthers: Lewis Brown, Sam McKendry, Dean Whare

Vodafone Warriors: Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Kevin Locke, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Sam Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei

Wests Tigers: Adam Blair, Tim Simona


Unavailable: St George Illawarra Dragons: Gerard Beale; Wests Tigers: Benji Marshall


A Kiwis squad of 24 for the Rugby League World Cup will be named on October 8. The squad has a warm-up game against the Cook Islands in Doncaster on October 20, before opening the World Cup defence on October 27 in Warrington against Samoa. The tournament finishes at Manchesters Old Trafford on November 30.


Every match from the Rugby League World Cup will be shown live on SKY Sport in New Zealand.


2013 KIWIS MATCH SCHEDULE (UK dates):


October 20 v Cook Islands (Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster)

October 27 v Samoa (Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington)

November 1 v France (Parc des Sports, Avignon)

November 8 v Papua New Guinea (Headingley Carnegie, Leeds)

November 15-17 Quarter-finals

November 23 Semi-finals (doubleheader, Wembley Stadium, London)

November 30 Final (Old Trafford, Manchester)