June 20, 2022
Experienced forward Isaac Liu will miss the Kiwis’ one-off Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga to be with his partner for the birth of the couple’s second child this week.
The 31-year-old eight-Test Kiwi was named in the wider 15-man squad for the encounter at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday.
However, Liu, a 217-game NRL veteran, has remained on the Gold Coast to support his partner Jessica for the birth.
“It’s straightforward for us at times like this. We’re always about family coming first,” said Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.
“It’s such an important and exciting time for Isaac and his wife. He’s very much a part of our squad but there’s only one place he needs to be at a time like this. We’re excited for them.”
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Jamayne Isaako both delayed traveling to England for the Kiwis’ 2018 tour to be with their expectant partners. Watene-Zelezniak was on hand for the birth of his daughter and Isaako his son before they linked up with their teammates.
Liu won’t be replaced in the squad leaving the Kiwis with 24 players as they prepare for the international.
The squad has its first training session at Mount Smart Stadium tomorrow.
27 May 2022
The mighty Black and White is back.
To celebrate, NZRL is gifting the ultimate die-hard NZ fan + nine of their friends and whānau with a corporate table at the June 25th NZ v Tonga Test Double Header at Mt Smart Stadium.
Seem like a bit of you? Here’s how to enter:
Show us you’re the loudest and proudest New Zealand supporter there is.
Be as creative or detailed as you like; send us a video, photos or stories; we want to see it all.
How to enter:
Comment on our post who you’d take.
Post your entry or direct message us on NZRL socials – @nzrugbyleague (Insta) or @nzkiwis (FB).
Email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org
The competition closes Thursday 9th June.
Celebrate the return of rugby league to Aotearoa in style with a prize valued at nearly $3000.
Kiwi and Kiwi Ferns fans, show us you’re the loudest and proudest there is. It’s been too long, we’ve missed you.
Veteran halves Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran are among 27 players named in a wider Kiwi squad for the inaugural Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).
The last of the 34-year-old Marshall’s 27 Tests was in 2012 when he captained the Kiwis in a 10-18 loss to the Kangaroos in Townsville.
Foran (28) last played at international level in the 2017 Anzac Test in Canberra, his 21st outing for the national team.
Another feature of the extended squad is the inclusion of Tauranga-born Sharks second rower Briton Nikora, who made his NRL debut in the opening round this season.
The only other three players named who are yet to make their Kiwi Test debuts are Wellington-born Storm fullback Jahrome Hughes (24). Tokoroa-born Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano (28) and Tonga-born Vodafone Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi (27). Hughes and Paasi were in the Kiwis’ end-of-season touring squad last year but didn’t appear in a Test while Tetevano, who has played at international level for Cook Islands, was originally selected for the campaign before being ruled out by injury.
“We’re really pleased with the quality and form of the players we’ve been able to select,” said second-year Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.
“Nearly all of them have come through the Test we had against England in Denver last year and the matches against Australia and England later in the year. As a group we made a lot of progress and now it’s all about building on that.
“This Test against Tonga at Mount Smart is going to be a huge occasion and we can’t wait to be part of it.
“It kicks off what is a tremendous year for the international game with the introduction of the Oceania Cup competition, the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines and our series against the Great Britain Rugby League Lions.”
In all 22 of the 27 players named in the Kiwis’ wider squad tonight were involved in last year’s campaigns; the exceptions are Marshall, Foran, Tetevano, Nikora and Vodafone Warriors captain and 2018 Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
NRL competition leader Melbourne provides five players in the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny, front rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona, hooker Brandon Smith and Hughes while there are seven Vodafone Warriors in fullback Tuivasa-Sheck, wing Ken Maumalo, halfback Kodi Nikorima, prop Leeson Ah Mau, hooker Issac Luke, second rower Isaiah Papali’i and Paasi.
The Sydney Roosters boast four players in 2018 New Zealand Rugby League Player of the Year Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, centre Joseph Manu, back rower Isaac Liu and Tetevano.
The final 19-man Test squad will be announced after the NRL’s 14th round finishes with the clash between the Sydney Roosters and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday evening.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | WIDER SQUAD
LEESON AH MAU (Vodafone Warriors)
NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA (Melbourne Storm)
JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
KENNEATH BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)
KIERAN FORAN (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
JAHROME HUGHES (Melbourne Storm)
JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos)
SHAUN JOHNSON (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
ISAAC LIU (Sydney Roosters)
ISSAC LUKE (Vodafone Warriors)
JOSEPH MANU (Sydney Roosters)
BENJI MARSHALL (Wests Tigers)
ESAN MARSTERS (Wests Tigers)
KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)
BRITON NIKORA (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
KODI NIKORIMA (Vodafone Warriors)
AGNATIUS PAASI (Vodafone Warriors)
ISAIAH PAPALI’I (Vodafone Warriors)
JORDAN RAPANA (Canberra Raiders)
BRANDON SMITH (Melbourne Storm)
JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)
MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
ZANE TETEVANO (Sydney Roosters)
ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (Vodafone Warriors)
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters)
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Photo – Photosport