In just a few days, new Kiwi coach David Kidwell and the national selectors will confirm a 24-man squad for New Zealand’s end of season campaign.
It starts with a Test against Australia in Perth on October 15 followed by the Kiwis’ defence of the Four Nations crown in the United Kingdom.
The selectors have built up a train-on squad during the NRL finals, now numbering more than 30 after North Queensland’s Jason Taumalolo and Canberra’s Jordan Rapana and Joseph Tapine were added after their sides were eliminated from the play-offs last weekend.
Melbourne and Cronulla have seven New Zealand-eligible players involved in Sunday’s NRL grand final, the Storm with four forwards in brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor and the Sharks with Gerard Beale, Sosaia Feki and Sam Tagataese.
A number of players are now back in contention after missing the Anzac Test in May, among them veteran internationals Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Vodafone Warriors Simon Mannering, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke and Manu Vatuvei.
Injuries and post-season surgery have ruled some Kiwis out including Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ben Matulino, Alex Glenn, Dean Whare, Peta Hiku and Kodi Nikorima while Kieran Foran is unavailable. Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona was also withdrawn from the train-on squad this week.
Listed below is the train-on squad, the contenders by position and the schedule for the Four Nations.
KIWIS | 2016 TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Brisbane | Adam Blair, Jordan Kahu
Canberra | Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine
Canterbury Bankstown | Greg Eastwood
Cronulla | Gerard Beale, Sosaia Feki, Sam Tagataese (grand finalists)
Manly | Lewis Brown, Addin Fonua-Blake, Martin Taupau
Melbourne | Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Kevin Proctor (grand finalists)
North Queensland | Jason Taumalolo
Parramatta | Manu Ma'u, Brad Takairangi
Penrith | James Fisher-Harris, Te Maire Martin, Suaia Matagi, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
St George Illawarra | Jason Nightingale
Sydney Roosters | Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Isaac Liu, Sam Moa, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Vodafone Warriors | David Fusitu’a, Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata, Thomas Leuluai, Sam Lisone, Tuimoala Lolohea, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Jazz Tevaga, Bodene Thompson, Manu Vatuvei
Wests Tigers | Elijah Taylor
THE CONTENDERS BY POSITION
Fullback | David Fusitu’a, Jordan Kahu, Tuimoala Lolohea
Wing | Sosaia Feki, David Fusitu’a, Jason Nightingale, Jordan Rapana, Manu Vatuvei, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Centre | Gerard Beale, Jordan Kahu, Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Brad Takairangi
Halves | Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Tuimoala Lolohea, Te Maire Martin
Back row | Kenny Bromwich, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, James Fisher-Harris, Tohu Harris, Isaac Liu, Simon Mannering, Manu Ma’u, Kevin Proctor, Joseph Tapine, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Elijah Taylor, Jazz Tevaga, Bodene Thompson
Prop | Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, James Fisher-Harris, Addin Fonua-Blake, Sam Lisone, Suaia Matagi, Sam Moa, Sam Tagataese, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Hooker | Lewis Brown, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Elijah Taylor, Jazz Tevaga
2016 FOUR NATIONS | SCHEDULE
(GMT times listed)
October 28, 8.00pm | Australia v Scotland, KC Lightstream Stadium, Hull
October 29, 2.30pm | England v New Zealand, John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield
November 5, 5.30pm | England v Scotland, Ricoh Arena, Coventry
November 5, 8.00pm | New Zealand v Australia, Ricoh Arena, Coventry
November 11, 8.00pm | New Zealand v Scotland, Zebra Claims Stadium, Workington
November 13, 2.00pm | England v Australia, London Olympic Stadium, London
November 20, 2.30pm | Final, Anfield, Liverpool