NZ tackles next generation league stars - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ tackles next generation league stars

05/05/2010 03:12:32 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand has reinforced its bid to convince a new generation of Australian-based rugby league talent to commit to the Kiwis rather than the Kangaroos.

Kiwis players and management took time out from preparing for Friday's Anzac Test against Australia to meet in Melbourne with about 30 young players with links to New Zealand.

Many of them have the choice of taking representative pathways with the NZRL or through the Australian system because they were either born in Australia or spent a significant length of time in the country.

Kiwis captain Benji Marshall - who finished his schooling on the Gold Coast - vice-captain Adam Blair plus rookie internationals Kieran Foran and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves were among those on hand to help the teenagers identify with their New Zealand heritage.

Two of the Kiwis preparing to play the Kangaroos were born in Sydney - uncapped second rower Zeb Taia and winger Jason Nightingale.

On the flip side, in recent years the Kangaroos have fielded Auckland-born former internationals Karmichael Hunt and Willie Mason.

Wellington-born Gold Coast Titans centre Joseph Tomane would have been in contention for Kiwis honours this year but indicated his focus was on eventually representing Queensland in State of Origin.

"What we're trying to do is to capture Kiwi hearts," said New Zealand team manager Tony Kemp said.

"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."

A first camp was held in Sydney in March, where 40 juniors were involved in a day-long camp featuring Sydney-born 2008 World Cup-winning skipper Nathan Cayless and fellow former internationals Nigel Vagana, David Kidwell and Mark Horo.

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