Kiwis lose more players for Four Nations - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwis lose more players for Four Nations

18/09/2009 06:40:50 AM Comments (0)

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney insists his team will be competitive at the upcoming Four Nations tournament despite a further seven players being ruled out through injury.

Kearney had already lost Melbourne's Sika Manu before naming a 45-man train-on squad earlier this month, but several more players will not be taking part in the tournament in England and France next month.

The seven players ruled out are South Sydney's Roy Asotasi, Newcastle backrower Zeb Taia, Wests Tiger Taniela Tuiaki and Warriors Simon Mannering, Sam Rapira, Jerome Ropati and Manu Vatuvei.

Despite the omissions, Kearney says the world champion Kiwis will still have plenty of quality when they name their final squad on October 5.

"My focus is always on the players we will have, not on those we won't have," he said.

"While it's obviously disappointing when players are unavailable it's also a reality when you're dealing with a competition that's as tough as the NRL is.

"We lost a lot of players who were in contention for the World Cup last year but we still had a very committed group of players who were desperate to represent New Zealand and had a real belief.

"It's exactly the same now. The players ruled out are bitterly disappointed but we know those left in the squad have a huge desire to be involved in this campaign and to be the best they can be.

"What's also encouraging is the quality of the players in the group, the depth we have in all positions and the fact so many are having a taste of finals football in either the NRL or the English Super League."

The Kiwis assemble in New Zealand early next month to prepare for a one-off Test against Tonga in Rotorua on October 14 before flying out to London three days later for their opening Four Nations clash against the Kangaroos in London on October 24.

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