Ten Vodafone Warriors are among the first group of 21 players named in the Kiwis’ train-on squad for the season-ending Four Nations tournament.
As well as experienced Kiwi internationals Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Ben Matulino and Shaun Johnson, the others included are Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, David Fusitu’a, Siliva Havili and Suaia Matagi.
Hurrell represented Mate Ma’a Tonga at last year’s Rugby League World Cup but has indicated his desire to represent the Kiwis.
Matagi, who played for Toa Samoa at the World Cup, was also named in the Samoans’ train-on squad last night along with club-mates Carlos Tuimavave, Dominique Peyroux, Michael Sio and Brad Abbey.
Coach Stephen Kearney named 21 players whose clubs have missed the NRL playoffs, due to start this week. Further names will be added as more teams are eliminated.
The wider squad will consist of about 40 players and the Four Nations roster will be named the week after the NRL Grand Final on October 5.
The only players so far missing from the Kiwis’ most recent outing – the Anzac Test against Australia in May – are Warriors utility Ben Henry, who has elected to have off-season knee surgery, and five-eighth Isaac John, after tearing an Achilles tendon in May.
The squad is:
Gerard Beale (St George Dragons), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Fa’amanu Brown (Cronulla Sharks), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), David Fusitu’a (Vodafone Warriors), Siliva Havili (Vodafone Warriors), Valentine Holmes (Cronulla Sharks), Konrad Hurrell (Vodafone Warriors), Shaun Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), Ngani Laumape (Vodafone Warriors), Thomas Leuluai (Vodafone Warriors), Simon Mannering (Vodafone Warriors), Suaia Matagi (Vodafone Warriors), Ben Matulino (Vodafone Warriors), Matt McIlrick (Canberra Raiders), Jason Nightingale (St George Dragons), Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers), Brad Takairangi (Wests Tigers), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors).
The Four Nations kicks off on October 25, with an England v Toa Samoa/Kiwis v Australia doubleheader at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Meanwhile, seven players have been named for the initial Junior Kiwis train-on squad. They are:
Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storme), Herman Ese’ese (CanterburyBulldogs), Jerome Hughes (Gold Coast Titans), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Una Mohi (Melbourne Storm), Niua Puaka (Melbourne Storm), Renouf To’omaga (Canterbury Bulldogs).