Mannering to fill Matai's boots for NZ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mannering to fill Matai's boots for NZ

13/11/2008 03:06:18 PM Comments (0)

Rampaging backrower Simon Mannering has been shifted to replace injured Steve Matai in the centres for New Zealand in Saturday's rugby league World Cup semi-final clash with England.

Captain Nathan Cayless, right winger Sam Perrett and interchange prop Sam Rapira all return in the team named Thursday for the Suncorp Stadium match after missing the Kiwis' comeback win over England in Newcastle last Saturday.

Mannering's move to the backline allows bruising forward Sika Manu to come in to the pack after missing the most recent games against Papua New Guinea and England with an eye injury.

Kiwis coach Steve Kearney also made changes in the halves, naming rugged hooker Nathan Fien in the No.7 up against England's Rob Burrow and moving Wigan's Thomas Leuluai into the No 9 jumper.

Exciting halves prospect Issac Luke is on a Kiwis bench which includes Bronson Harrison, who impressed in his second Test against England last weekend, and dangerous utility Greg Eastwood.

"We've lost Steve (Matai) which is a blow but Simon gives us a great replacement," said Kearney.

"He's such a reliable player, as we've seen throughout this campaign and again in last week's match against England when he was forced to move to the centres.

"We've had plenty of competition for spots and that makes selection interesting but that's a good place to be in.

"There were some hard choices to make."

New Zealand: Lance Hohia, Sam Perrett, Simon Mannering, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Benji Marshall, Nathan Fien, Nathan Cayless (capt), Thomas Leuluai, Adam Blair, Sika Manu, David Fa'alogo, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Issac Luke, Greg Eastwood, Bronsan Harrison, Sam Rapira.

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