St George Illawarra Dragons winger Jason Nightingale has been named among 4 test debutants for the New Zealand Kiwi’s opening test against England.
Centre Jordan Kahu, scrumhalf Tuimoala Lolohea, forward Siosiua Takieaho and utility Kodi Nikorima are in line to earn their first test caps for the NZ Kiwis against England at Hull’s KC Stadium on Sunday.
The quartet debuted for their country against Leeds Rhinos last week and head coach Stephen Kearney has stuck with the group that defeated the champion English club champions for the opening encounter of the three-test series.
“The purpose of last week’s exercise was to give a run to some guys that hadn’t played in a while,” says Kearney.
“It was a matter of building that consistency, that’s why they’ve got the opportunity again this week.”
Kahu (groin) and co-captain Adam Blair (calf) both left the Leeds encounter with injuries, but have recovered sufficiently to be included in the extended 19-man test squad. The starting line-up will be finalised shortly before kick-off.
Blair’s calf strain has probably caused the most concern through the past week and he has been carefully managed by the Kiwis medical team.
“That’s still an ongoing exercise and we’ll make a call on Adam as late as tomorrow,” says Kearney. “If he’s unable to take the field, we’ve got some pretty handy replacements.
“Hopefully, for Adam, he will get the chance to skipper the team with Issac Luke.”
The squad for Sunday’s opening test against England is:
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
2. Jason Nightingale
3. Jordan Kahu
4. Dean Whare
5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
6. Peta Hiku
7. Tuimoala Lolohea
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Issac Luke
10. Sam Moa
11. Kevin Proctor
12. Tohu Harris
13. Adam Blair
14. Kodi Nikorima
15. Martin Taupau
16. Ben Matulino
17. Siosiua Takeiaho