Eight debutants have now been included in the 16-man New Zealand Kiwis squad for the World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney on October 18 and 19.
When the line-up was originally named yesterday head coach Michael Maguire confirmed NRL rookies in Parramatta standoff Dylan Brown (19) and Canberra winger Bailey Simonsson (21) as well as second rower Corey Harawira-Naera (Canterbury Bankstown-Bulldogs), front rower Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), hooker Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs) and winger Reimis Smith (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs).
In the past 24 hours Maguire has been forced to make two more changes after losing forward James Fisher-Harris and winger Jordan Rapana resulting in the inclusion today of two more players yet to play for the Kiwis – Sydney Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano and Canberra Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Simonsson, Marshall-King and Smith all have strong family connections in rugby league.
Simonsson’s father Paul was a 1987 All Black before switching from rugby union to rugby league when he played with the North Sydney Bears in the then Winfield Cup in 1991-92.
Marshall-King (23) makes the New Zealand team in the same year his older brother and rugby league legend Benji made his emotional Test comeback for the Kiwis against Mate Ma’a Tonga seven years after his last international.
And Smith (22) is the son of 1996-2000 Kiwi Tyran Smith, who played for seven clubs in his 188-game NRL career from 1993-2005.
Harawira-Naera (24) was originally named in the Kiwi squad for the end of season campaign against the Kangaroos and England last year before being ruled out with injury. Tetevano was also ruled out with injury after being selected for that campaign and wasn’t in the final 17 when he was with the Kiwis for their Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga in June.
While bringing in eight newcomers, Maguire has a squad built around Test players in halves Shaun Johnson and Kodi Nikorima, second rowers Kevin Proctor, Briton Nikora and Joseph Tapine, wingers Ken Maumalo and Jamayne Isaako and prop Leeson Ah Mau.
“This is a hugely exciting opportunity for the whole group playing in the World Cup Nines,” said Maguire.
“I’m especially excited for the new players we’ve been able to bring into the group.
“We’ve got players right across this squad who have come off terrific NRL seasons and have earned the privilege to represent New Zealand. For us, this is another step towards taking the Kiwi jersey to the place we want it to be.”
The New Zealand World Cup Nines squad assembles in Sydney next Monday.
Following the Nines, the Kiwis switch mode to Test football with their Oceania Cup clash against the Kangaroos in Wollongong on Friday, October 25 before flying to New Zealand for two Tests against the reformed GB Rugby League Lions (Great Britain).
The first of these will be the second match of an international tripleheader at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday, November 2, which also features the Kangaroos facing Tonga Invitational and Toa Samoa taking on Fiji Bati in Oceania Cup matches.
The Kiwis then move to Christchurch for the second Test at Orangetheory Stadium (formerly AMI Stadium) on Saturday, November 9.
The New Zealand Test squad will be announced tomorrow.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | WORLD CUP NINES
LEESON AH MAU (Vodafone Warriors)
*DYLAN BROWN (Parramatta Eels)
*COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
*BRADEN HAMLIN-UELE (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos)
SHAUN JOHNSON (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
*JEREMY MARSHALL-KING (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)
*CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD (Canberra Raiders)
BRITON NIKORA (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
KODI NIKORIMA (Vodafone Warriors)
KEVIN PROCTOR (Gold Coast Titans)
*BAILEY SIMONSSON (Canberra Raiders)
*REIMIS SMITH (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)
*ZANE TETEVANO (Sydney Roosters)
Debutants denoted by *
The NRL has confirmed the three pools which will make up the inaugural Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, to be held at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta on October 18-19.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said today the format of the pools would ensure key rivals face each other in the fast-paced, action-packed short form of Rugby League.
During the official launch of the tournament today in Parramatta, it was revealed that:
Mr Greenberg said the two highest-placed teams from Group A would progress to the Semi Finals, alongside the winners of Groups B and C.
The two highest-placed teams from the Women’s pool, which features Australia, New Zealand, England and PNG, will feature in the women’s final.
The Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019 was formally launched today in Parramatta featuring Damien Cook (Kangaroos), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Kiwis), James Segeyaro (PNG), Maika Sivo (Fiji), Michael Jennings (Tonga), Anthony Milford (Samoa), Alex Glenn (Cook Islands), as well as Isabelle Kelly (Jillaroos) and Raecene McGregor (Kiwi Ferns).
Mr Greenberg said the pools were chosen to ensure exciting match-ups between traditional rivals.
He added all teams would play one match on Friday and a minimum of two matches on Saturday.
“The World Cup 9s will feature the most exciting players to watch in the game, representing their nations and their cultures,” Mr Greenberg said.
“It will be a festival of Rugby League and the fast-paced, frenetic nature of Nines will be fantastic to watch.
“This is Rugby League rebooted – a unique and exciting way to showcase our wonderful athletes.”
Mr Greenberg also detailed some of the key rules which will be in place during the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s:
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, said: “It’s an exciting time for our international game, we’re looking forward to watching both our Ferns and Kiwis take the field in what will be an entertaining weekend of fast-paced rugby league action.”
Two-day passes for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s will go on sale for the General Public on Wednesday (July 24).
Single-day passes will be available to purchase for the General Public from August 7.
Tickets will be available via nrl.com/tickets.
The 12 teams in the men’s competition and four teams in the women’s tournament will compete across 28 matches and 12 hours of action. Every men’s and women’s match will be broadcast live across the two days of competition.