The Kiwis' tests against the Cook Islands in Rarotonga have been called off due to the unavailability of 29 frontline players.
The Kiwis were due to fly out next Tuesday to play their first ever test in Rarotonga on October 6 as part of their build-up to the Four Nations.
However, New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Jim Doyle today announced the national body had reluctantly decided to call off the match.
"We are committed to rescheduling the test in the Cook Islands in the future but we aren't in the position to be able to do the event justice on this occasion," he said.
"There are so many players out of contention that we simply wouldn't be able to select a side which would be of the standard we require to represent New Zealand in a test match.
"We're bitterly disappointed it has come to this because this match was critical for us in terms of preparation for the test against Australia on October 16 and the Four Nations to follow. It was also vital to help foster the game in the islands."
Players unavailable through injury or finals commitments were Gerard Beale, Kevin Locke, Josh Hoffman, Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvei, Matt Duffie, Jason Nightingale, Sam Perrett, Krisnan Inu, Bill Tupou, Simon Mannering, Steve Matai, Lewis Brown, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Benji Marshall, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Nathan Fien, Ben Matulino, Russell Packer, Adam Blair, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Greg Eastwood, Sam Rapira, Alex Glenn, Frank Pritchard, Aaron Heremaia, Thomas Leuluai and Bronson Harrison.
While the match had been called off, Doyle said a group of key players would travel to Rarotonga next week to make community appearances there. Doyle said the Kiwis' squad for the one-off test against Australia and the Four Nations to follow was due to be named on October 6.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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