Kiwi chance no NQ certainty - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwi chance no NQ certainty

Laine Clark 27/04/2011 07:24:14 PM Comments (0)

By his own admission, keeping a spot in the North Queensland centres will be tough enough for Antonio Winterstein.

But the Cowboys flyer may yet break into an injury-hit New Zealand's trans-Tasman Test team on Sunday night.

Just three games back from a broken jaw, the former Broncos winger's comeback has been made even more challenging after being thrown into the Cowboy centres.

Despite impressing for North Queensland in the unfamiliar role, Winterstein sounded like a man warming a seat before Test centre Brent Tate's return.

"Hopefully I can stay in this spot until Tatey comes back," Winterstein said on Wednesday.

"Hopefully it will be a hard decision for the coach (after Tate returns) - I can only let my footy do the talking."

Tate told the Cowboys website he was only six weeks away from returning from a serious knee injury, a fortnight ahead of schedule.

Winterstein may not be able to crack a Cowboys wing spot due to the form of Ash Graham and Kalifa Faifai Loa.

But the door is open for him to be named on the Kiwis wing for next Friday night's trans-Tasman Test on the Gold Coast.

Winterstein - a 2010 Four Nations squad member - is believed to be in the mix as Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney considers replacements for injured wingers Sam Perrett and Manu Vatuvei.

Cowboys coach Neil Henry didn't mind throwing Winterstein's hat in the ring.

"He certainly wouldn't let anyone down," Henry said.

Not that Winterstein was losing any sleep over it.

"I am not holding my breath. I have only had three games back," he said.

"There's boys out there who have played most of the games and probably deserve a spot.

"They have a few injuries with Vatuvei and Sammy Perrett, but they have also got (Dragons' Jason) Nightingale and Krisnan Inu is playing well for the Warriors.

"That will take care of itself - I am not really fazed."

However, Winterstein admitted he has a golden chance to impress Kearney lining up against damaging Kiwi centre Steve Matai when the Cowboys host Manly on Saturday night.

"I will be up against a certain centre for the Kiwis - Steve Matai - so that will be a good challenge and I am up for it," he said.

"I will have to go in aggressive and not give him an inch and try and stay away from his hits."

Stats show Winterstein is up for the Matai challenge.

He has rattled off 47 tackles, missing just two, in his three games to date - including a career-high 19 tackles in their last round win over Cronulla.

"With each game I am getting my confidence back. I am still getting my bearings but I am pretty sure that I am back to 100 per cent," Winterstein said.

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