Foran eyes Kiwi starting spot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Foran eyes Kiwi starting spot

03/04/2010 04:35:25 PM Comments (0)

Thirteen months after Stacey Jones conjured an improbable NRL victory for the Warriors over Manly, the Kiwi legend's heir apparent Kieran Foran will look to leave his mark on the clash - but as a Sea Eagle.

Jones was the focal point in a stunning comeback at Brookvale Oval 18 months after retiring, two improbable plays securing a 26-24 triumph.

This time Foran, 19, makes a rare return home, keen to prove he is a worthy partner for Benji Marshall in the one-off Test against Australia in Melbourne on May 7.

Although the teenager's maiden first-grade appearance at Mt Smart Stadium will be just his 13th career match, Kiwis coaches past and present are already aware of his capabilities.

Current boss Stephen Kearney handed Foran his Test debut against England in last year's Four Nations tournament.

Former Kiwis coach, and current Manly chief executive, Graham Lowe, is convinced Foran and Marshall can pose genuine problems against the Kangaroos.

"He's a tremendous young player and a great prospect for the Kiwis," Lowe said.

"Kieran has a great attitude, he's a strong young fella.

"He looks to me to be very comfortable at five-eighth. I see Benji at halfback but if they were the other way round it wouldn't make much difference.

"Put them in the halves and you really give Australia something to be concerned about."

Foran admits he is keen to add to his single Test cap although his first priority is helping the 1-2 Sea Eagles build on last weekend's morale-boosting 36-12 win over Newcastle.

He started the season at halfback - against Marshall's Wests Tigers - but now finds himself at five-eighth in an inexperienced halves pairing alongside local junior Trent Hodkinson.

They match up against Joel Moon and James Maloney, the latter coming off a 28-point man-of-the-match haul against Brisbane last weekend.

"It'll be tough, they went great against the Broncos and they'll probably get a full house," said Foran, whose family relocated from Auckland in 2001.

Manly were impressed when they watched footage of the Warriors' 48-16 demolition job on Brisbane while the NRL's season stats also reveal the threat they can pose with enough front-foot ball and field position.

Few rated them a finals chance as the season began, but the Warriors are averaging 5.7 tries a game to rank them first in the competition and also lead the way for line breaks with eight per match.

Warriors wrecking ball Manu Vatuvei and skipper Simon Mannering (both hamstring) will be missing for the home side, while Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler will trim a six-man bench after prop George Rose (ankle) was ruled out.

Auckland holds little fear for Manly, who have a 6-2 record there.

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