Four Vodafone Warriors players have been included in an 18-man squad for the Kiwis’ opening Four Nations clash against the Kangaroos at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday (6.45pm kick-off local time; 9.45pm NZT).
Captain Simon Mannering will have club-mates Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai with him while prop Suaia Matagi has been named on a five-man bench.
Mannering is paired in the second row with Melbourne’s Kevin Proctor while Leuluai starts at hooker instead of the suspended Issac Luke and halfback Johnson is reunited with Manly’s Kieran Foran, who missed the Anzac Test with injury.
Matagi has been listed in jersey No 18 indicating he is likely to be the player to drop off but, should he make the cut, he’ll make his Kiwi Test debut having represented Toa Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup last year and again earlier this year.
Veteran Vodafone Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei has surprisingly missed selection along with rookie hooker Siliva Havili. Vatuvei was one of the NRL’s top try scorers with 17 in 23 appearances this year and was named the club’s SKYCITY Players’ Player of the Year for his outstanding efforts.
However, Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney and the selectors have opted for the experienced Jason Nightingale and Penrith’s 19-year-old Dallin Watene-Zelezniak as their wingers to line up against the Australians.
Also making his Kiwi Test debut on Saturday will be the powerful Jason Taumalolo who has been named to start at loose forward.
While four Vodafone Warriors have been included in the Kiwis’ 18-man squad the club also has representatives in the other three teams.
Starting in the second row for the Kangaroos is Ryan Hoffman who will link up with the Vodafone Warriors after the Four Nations.
Vodafone Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins is in the England side to face Toa Samoa which has Vodafone Warriors utility Michael Sio starting at hooker. That match kicks off at 4.00pm (7.00pm NZT).
Former Vodafone Warriors also feature. Peta Hiku is at fullback for the Kiwis while utility Lewis Brown is on the bench. The Samoans have ex-Vodafone Warrior Leeson Ah Mau in the second row and Pita Godinet on the bench.
FOUR NATIONS - THE TEAMS
AUSTRALIA v NEW ZEALAND
6.45pm, Saturday, October 25
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Phil Bentham (England)
AUSTRALIA | 1 Greg Inglis; 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Dylan Walker, 5 Daniel Tupou; 6 Daly Cherry-Evans, 7 Cooper Cronk; 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Sam Thaiday; 11 Beau Scott, 12 Ryan Hoffman; 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Robbie Farah, 15 Aidan Guerra, 16 Josh Papalii, 17 Corey Parker, 18 Boyd Cordner, 19, David Klemmer, 20 Sione Mata’utia. Coach: Tim Sheens.
NEW ZEALAND | 1 Peta Hiku; 2 Jason Nightingale, 3 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak; 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Shaun Johnson; 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Thomas Leuluai, 10 Adam Blair; 11 Simon Mannering (c), 12 Kevin Proctor; 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Lewis Brown, 15 Greg Eastwood, 16 Martin Taupau, 17 Tohu Harris, 18 Suaia Matagi. Coach: Stephen Kearney.
ENGLAND v TOA SAMOA
4.00pm, Saturday, October 25
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Henry Perenara (New Zealand)
ENGLAND | 1 Sam Tomkins; 2 Josh Charnley, 3 Kallum Watkins, 4 Michael Shenton, 5 Ryan Hall; 6 Gareth Widdop, 7 Matty Smith; 8 George Burgess, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 James Graham (c); 11 Liam Farrell, 12 Joel Tomkins; 13 Joe Westerman. Interchange: 14 Daryl Clark, 15 Brett Ferres, 16 Tom Burgess, 17 Chris Hill. Coach: Steve McNamara.
TOA SAMOA | 1 Tim Simona; 2 Antonio Winterstein, 3 Ricky Leutele, 4 Joey Leilua, 5 Daniel Vidot; 6 Ben Roberts, 7 Kyle Stanley; 8 Sam Tagataese, 9 Michael Sio, 10 David Fa’alogo; 11 Frank Pritchard, 12 Leeson Ah Mau; 13 Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14 Pita Godinet, 15 Jesse Sene-Lefao, 16 Isaac Liu, 17 Mose Masoe, 18 Dunamis Lui. Coach: Matt Parish.