Vodafone Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi and utility back Peta Hiku have been added to the squad for the New Zealand Kiwis’ four-Test end of season campaign opening with the Trans-Tasman Triple Header clash against the Kangaroos at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, October 13.
Paasi (26) and experienced 11-Test Kiwi Hiku (25) join clubmate Isaiah Papali’i as replacements.
Papali’i was brought in on Monday after Melbourne prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona (ankle) and Sydney Roosters interchange forward Zane Tetavano (biceps) were ruled out after picking up injuries in Sunday night’s NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium.
That left the 24th spot in the touring party to be filled while yesterday Penrith’s Bulldogs-bound second rower Corey Harawira-Naera was also forced out with a groin injury.
“It’s really disappointing for Nelson, Zane and Corey who were all so keen to be involved, especially Zane and Corey who were in line to make their debuts,” said head coach Michael Maguire.
“But it’s exciting now for Isaiah and Agnatius who have the chance to debut and also for Peta to again be part of the Kiwis. They’ve all had strong seasons for the Warriors and we are thrilled to be able to call on them.”
It means the 24-strong touring party still includes five newcomers to the national squad in Melbourne hooker Brandon Smith, Storm utility back Jahrome Hughes and Sydney Roosters centre Joseph Manu plus Paasi and Papali’i.
Paasi, Papali’i and Hiku were all major contributors as the Vodafone Warriors returned to the NRL finals this season for the for the first time since 2011.
Paasi, who made one appearance for the Warriors in 2014, spent three seasons with the Gold Coast Titans from 2015-2017 before returning to Mount Smart Stadium this year. A first-choice starter after coming into the side in the third round, he then played every game lifting his career tally to 78 games. He averaged 40 minutes a match, 101 metres, 38 post-contact metres and 22 tackles while scoring three tries.
Hiku also returned home this year after having stints with Manly (2013-2015) and Penrith (2016-2017) before joining Warrington in the English Super League in 2017.
After starting 2018 in the centres he was later used at fullback, on the wing and at standoff across 22 appearances in a season in which he brought up his 100th NRL appearance. Scoring four tries, he finished the season with eight try assists, six line breaks and eight line break assists while averaging 113 metres, 43 post-contact metres and 13 tackles a game.
The Kiwis assemble in Auckland on Saturday.
Saturday, October 13
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
3.05pm | Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos, 3.05pm
5.15pm | Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos, 5.15pm
7.45pm | Kiwis v Kangaroos, 7.45pm
Saturday, October 13 | v Australia | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Saturday, October 27 | v England | KC Stadium, Hull
Sunday, November 4 | v England | Anfield, Liverpool
Saturday, November 10 | v England | Elland Road, Leeds
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | END OF SEASON CAMPAIGN
LEESON AH MAU (St George Illawarra Dragons), #812, 1 Test for Kiwis
GERARD BEALE (Vodafone Warriors), #767, 10 Tests for Kiwis
ADAM BLAIR (Vodafone Warriors), #732, 45 Tests for Kiwis
JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm), #775, 24 Tests for Kiwis
KENNEATH BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm), #796, 3 Tests for Kiwis
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers), #801, 2 Tests for Kiwis
PETA HIKU (Vodafone Warriors), #781, 11 Tests
JAHROME HUGHES (Melbourne Storm), debvutant
JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos), #808, 1 Test for Kiwis
SHAUN JOHNSON (Vodafone Warriors), #774, 25 Tests for Kiwis
ISAAC LIU (Sydney Roosters), #805, 3 Tests for Kiwis
JOSEPH MANU (Sydney Roosters), debutant
ESAN MARSTERS (Wests Tigers), #809, 1 Test for Kiwis
KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors), #810, 1 Test for Kiwis
KODI NIKORIMA (Brisbane Broncos), #790, 9 Tests for Kiwis
AGNATIUS PAASI (Vodafone Warriors), debutant
ISAIAH PAPALI'I (Vodafone Warriors), debutant
KEVIN PROCTOR (Gold Coast Titans), #771, 17 Tests for Kiwis
JORDAN RAPANA (Canberra Raiders), #798, 8 Tests
BRANDON SMITH (Melbourne Storm), debutant
JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders), #800, 8 Tests
MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), #785, 21 Tests
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters), #755, 24 Tests
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Penrith Panthers), #794, 7 Tests