A new Kiwi captain and some new faces will be revealed when the New Zealand team to tour England is announced in Auckland this morning.
The Kiwis face a three-Test series against England as well as a warm-up match against the Leeds Rhinos, who face Wigan in the Super League grand final at Old Trafford this weekend.
Coach Stephen Kearney’s 23-man squad will be missing some mainstays from the successful campaigns in last year’s Four Nations and this year’s Anzac Test.
Captain Simon Mannering was confirmed as a non-starter on Tuesday joining Manly’s Kieran Foran (elbow) and Vodafone Warriors Shaun Johnson (ankle), Thomas Leuluai (knee) and Manu Vatuvei (shoulder); Johnson, Leuluai and Vatuvei have all had major surgery. Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is also unavailable following surgery although he hasn’t appeared for the Kiwis since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
While Kearney, who will be in Auckland for the announcement, has lost Mannering, Foran, Johnson, Leuluai and Vatuvei he is still able to call on the bulk of the squad used in the Four Nations and the Anzac Test.
Eligible players from Sunday’s North Queensland-Brisbane grand final haven’t been added to the train-on squad but the North Queensland duo of Jason Taumalolo and Antonio Winterstein plus Brisbane’s Adam Blair, Alex Glenn, Jordan Kahu and Kodi Nikorima are all contenders.
In all 22 Kiwi team candidates were involved in this year’s NRL finals series.
While Mannering is out there is no shortage of options for the back row and there is also ample depth in the front row.
The Kiwis’ tour starts against Leeds on October 23 followed by Tests in Hull (November 1), London’s Olympic Stadium (November 7) and Wigan (November 14).
2015 KIWIS | TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Brisbane (not confirmed | Adam Blair, Alex Glenn, Jordan Kahu, Kodi Nikorima
Canterbury-Bankstown | Greg Eastwood, Curtis Rona
Cronulla | Gerard Beale, Sosaia Feki
Manly | Peta Hiku
Melbourne | Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Kevin Proctor
North Queensland (not confirmed) | Jason Taumalolo, Antonio Winterstein
Parramatta | Manu Ma’u
Penrith | Lewis Brown, Sam McKendry, Elijah Taylor, Dean Whare
South Sydney | Bryson Goodwin, Issac Luke
St George Illawarra | Jason Nightingale
Sydney Roosters | Isaac Liu, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Moa, Matt McIlwrick, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Vodafone Warriors | Solomone Kata, Tuimoala Lolohea, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson
Wests Tigers | Manaia Cherrington, Te Maire Martin, Tim Simona, Martin Taupau