Tongan-born Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell is set to wear the black jumper of New Zealand.
Tony Kemp, head of high performance at New Zealand Rugby League, confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times that NRL rookie Hurrell, who has played seven first-grade matches, has signed a letter of intent to play for the Kiwis.
The 20-year-old moved to New Zealand from Nuku'alofa in late 2009 on a rugby union scholarship to Auckland Grammar.
He missed out on making the Junior Kiwis for their match against the Junior Kangaroos in Newcastle last October because he lacked New Zealand residency at the time.
"He qualifies for the Kiwi jersey," Kemp said.
"He was three months short of qualification last year which we asked for special dispensation for the Junior Kiwis.
"He has signed a letter saying he wants to play for New Zealand."
Hurrell, who became a Toyota Cup star last year after signing with the Warriors, made his NRL debut against the Sea Eagles in round one this year and has impressed with his explosive, powerful style of play.
Kemp said that while Hurrell still had plenty of work to do to reach international level, the young Tongan centre had every chance of pulling on the black jumper in the future.
"He's definitely an explosive style of player but you've just got to take it into context," Kemp said.
"It's his first year in NRL and there's a lot of development left in the player. If he keeps developing the way he is, there's no reason why he won't be spoken about in the future to wear the black jersey."
Although intensely proud of his Tongan upbringing and family, Hurrell said he would definitely take the opportunity to represent New Zealand if it came his way.
"My heart is for Tonga but if I get the opportunity to play for the Kiwis, I'd take it with two hands," he said.
"I'll always be loyal to [my] country, but I'd always take the opportunities as they come. It's better for me and my family, especially for my future."
Hurrell will probably be ineligible to play for the Junior Kiwis this year, with players not being allowed to have played more than 50 per cent of their club's first-grade games in any given year. The 20-year-old has played in seven of the Warriors' 11 matches so far in 2012.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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