Kiwis announce squad for Centenary Test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwis announce squad for Centenary Test

30/04/2008 05:24:20 PM Comments (0)

Three uncapped players and two based in Britain have been named in an expanded 19-man New Zealand rugby league squad for the Centenary Test against Australia next month.

South Sydney hooker Isaac Luke, St George Illawarra winger Jason Nightingale and Sydney Roosters utility Setaimata Sa are the trio with a chance to make their Test debuts for the Kiwis.

South Sydney's Roy Asotasi, a key figure in the early departure of previous coach Gary Kemble after the disastrous end-of-year campaign, has been retained as skipper under new coach Stephen Kearney.

Game-breaking Bulldog second rower Sonny Bill Williams is back in the squad after last wearing the Kiwi jersey in last year's Anzac test.

Also returning are centre Iosia Soliola, prop Nathan Cayless and loose forward David Fa'alogo, who also haven't played for New Zealand since that match.

Fullback Brent Webb's inclusion in Kearney's first selection follows Leeds' stated unwillingness to release him.

The reason the Yorkshire club have given is that the Test in Sydney on May 9 is on the same weekend as the Rhinos' Challenge Cup tie against fellow Super League side Harlequins.

Chief executive Gary Hetherington said earlier that Leeds had indicated some weeks ago when the subject was first broached that they would be unwilling to release Webb.

The issue had been handed to the England's Rugby Football League to take up with the New Zealand Rugby League.

Leeds had always released players in the past, Hetherington said.

But the present situation was a new one in that the clash of dates was not with a Super League fixture, but a knock-out cup tie, where there were no second chances and so Leeds wanted to put out their best side.

Also included in the Kiwi squad is Wigan halfback James Leuluai, although his release could be less problematical, since his club are drawn against non-Super League opposition that weekend.

Webb has appeared 16 times for the Kiwis but missed all six Tests last year. Leuluai has 11 caps.

Hawera-born Luke, 20, graduates to the Test squad after making his National Rugby League debut for the Rabbitohs last June.

Sydney-born Nightingale, 21, whose parents are New Zealanders, made his first-grade debut last May.

He has scored five tries in seven matches for the Dragons this season and 12 in 23 matches in all.

Sa, 20, who hails from Christchurch, had his first taste of NRL football for the Roosters on Anzac Day in 2006. Like Luke, he is a former Junior Kiwi.

New Zealand squad: Roy Asotasi (South Sydney, capt), Brent Webb (Leeds), Sam Perrett (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra), Setaimata Sa (Sydney Roosters), Iosia Soliola (Sydney Roosters), Ben Roberts (Bulldogs), Lance Hohaia (NZ Warriors), Thomas Leuluai (Wigan), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Sonny Bill Williams (Bulldogs), Jeremy Smith (Melbourne), David Fa'alogo (South Sydney), Frank Pritchard (Penrith), David Kidwell (South Sydney), Dene Halatau (Wests Tigers), Adam Blair (Melbourne), Nathan Cayless (Parramatta), Issac Luke (South Sydney)

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