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Kearney targets Aussie-born Kiwis

05/03/2010 08:51:03 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand rugby league coach Stephen Kearney is brazenly targeting young Australian-born players in a move aimed at further bolstering the strength of the world champions.

In a first for the NZRL, Kiwis coach Kearney and a host of former and current Test stars, including captain Benji Marshall, will hold a camp on Saturday aimed at recruiting eligible Australian-born players.

About 40 under-20 players will attend the day-long camp at Parramatta Stadium, the base of 2008 World Cup-winning skipper Nathan Cayless, who was born in Sydney.

Young league players have the option of representing their homeland or a parent's birthplace and Kearney is hoping the camp will encourage more to commit to the silver fern - even if they rarely cross the Tasman.

"The purpose of the camp is to establish our identity," Kearney said.

"We want to give them an insight into the Kiwis culture, an idea of what's ahead, what's possible, what we have to offer and the commitment we give to you."

Former Kiwis Tawera Nikau, Ruben Wiki, Nigel Vagana, David Kidwell, Mark Horo and Cayless are among the speakers while current captain Marshall - who was educated on the Gold Coast after leaving NZ - and ex-skipper Roy Asotasi will also be on hand.

The camp concludes with a hangi, the traditional Maori method of cooking food in hot stones.

"What we're trying to do is to capture Kiwi hearts," said NZRL football manager Tony Kemp.

"In some cases these players were born in New Zealand but have been raised in Australia while others were born in Australia but have New Zealand heritage.

"We want them to be really aware of their Kiwi roots and we want them to know that New Zealand has a big interest in them."

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