Nightingale: Missing Stars No Dramas For Kiwis
St George Illawarra Dragons winger Jason Nightingale says New Zealand have the depth to cover for the absences of injured stars in the upcoming three-Test series against England.
New Zealand started their England tour with a 34-16 win over Leeds Rhinos and did so without regular skipper Simon Mannering and star halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran, who have all missed the tour due to illness or injury.
But Nightingale said covering for missing stars was part and parcel of international rugby league at this time of the year.
"I think every international team has to deal with that," Nightingale told NRL.com's Steve Mascord.
"When you have a series at the end of the year it always seems to be the way that people get off-season surgery, and when you host a tournament after a long season injuries happen and repairs need to be made to make sure that people are prepared for their next NRL season.
"So that always happens and I think we've had to deal with that in the past as I'm sure England have as well. It doesn't really make a difference for us as a team, we've done a great job building our depth over the past few seasons."
Nightingale said New Zealand's success at the 2014 Four Nations, despite being without Roosters star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, showed the team had no problem covering for star players in end-of-season tournaments.
"I think last year's Four Nations proved that for us – we didn't have Roger who was arguably one of the best players in the comp this year.
"We've obviously lost our two starting halves and we'll have to do a bit of shuffling work there but it's still a great squad we've put together and I think with the team and things we've got in place it's not really about who the individual players are that are taking the field."
This article first appeared on NRL.com