Kiwis name four newcomers for Anzac test
Four rookies, including star Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson, have been named in the 19-man Kiwis squad tonight ahead of Friday's Anzac test against the Kangaroos at Eden Park.
Cowboys second-rower Jason Taumalolo, Storm prop Jesse Bromwich and Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman are the other fresh faces included in coach Stephen Kearney's squad.
"Shaun is one of the best attacking talents in the game and we're looking forward to seeing him combine with Benji," Kearney said.
"Josh was very close to making the team last year before getting injured.
"He has been superb at the back for the Broncos this year and he'll bring some real firepower to the squad.
"I worked with Jesse at the Storm and he has continued to develop into an outstanding professional. And you couldn't resist the form of Jason. He's one of the most dynamic athletes in the NRL and we're delighted to have him in the Kiwis squad. It should really help his development."
In addition, veteran Bulldogs forward Frank Pritchard has received a recall after last year pledging his international allegiance to Samoa on the eve of the Four Nations.
Pritchard has played 21 tests for the Kiwis and made his last appearance in 2010.
Taumalolo, touted in league circles a superstar-in-waiting, has been at the centre of an international tug-of-war in previous weeks, with Queensland coach Mal Meninga reportedly urging him to snub the black jersey for a maroon one.
Yet the Mangere-raised 18-year-old has sided with his home country, and has won an international jumper for his troubles.
Johnson, meanwhile, who has just 23 first-grade games under his belt, was named in the Kiwis Four Nations squad last year, but pulled out to recover from a niggling back injury that hampered him throughout 2011.
He is likely to start at halfback on Friday night after first-choice No 7 Kieran Foran was ruled out today with a hamstring complaint.
Foran's Manly club team-mate Steve Matai was also forced out with a shoulder injury.
Prop Bromwich, 21, was born in Auckland and made his debut for the Storm in round one last year and has been a mainstay in the first-grade side this season.
Hoffman, likewise, has been in top form at fullback for the Brisbane Broncos and while he was born in Mackay, Queensland, qualifies for the Kiwis through his New Zealand-born father Shane.
Kiwis: Gerard Beale, Alex Glenn, Josh Hoffman (Broncos); Frank Pritchard (Bulldogs); Jeremy Smith (Sharks); Jesse Bromwich (Storm); Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys); Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Manu Vatuvei (Warriors); Sam McKendry (Panthers); Issac Luke (Rabbitohs); Nathan Fien, Jason Nightingale (Dragons); Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters); Adam Blair, Benji Marshall (Tigers). Coach: Stephen Kearney.
Kangaroos: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Akuila Uate, Johnathan Thurston, Cronk, Paul Gallen, Cameron Smith (c), David Shillington, Sam Thaiday, David Taylor, Luke Lewis. Interchange: Cherry-Evans, Ben Hannant, Tamou, Anthony Watmough. 18th man: Matt Gillett.