Big Sam Kasiano to be named in Kiwis squad
The Bulldogs' front-rower Sam Kasiano will represent New Zealand in the one-off Test against Australia on October 13 in Townsville after telephoning Kiwi officials on Monday to inform them he had pledged his allegiance to them.
Kasiano will be selected for the Kiwis today, and will line up against the Australians at Dairy Farmers Stadium, ending the debate about his eligibility.
Kasiano always said he would make his decision after the grand final, and he was true to his word. The Herald was told that Kasiano had contacted New Zealand officials yesterday, and told them he wanted to play for the Kiwis. That was despite overtures from the Queensland coach Mal Meninga.
Australian selectors had not considered Kasiano for the Test, and while that might have played a part in his decision, it has been long felt that Kasiano considers himself a Kiwi.
The Bulldogs might only have one Australian representative - the centre, Josh Morris - but there will be no shortage of representatives from the club in the Test match. Kasiano is set to be joined by second-rower Frank Pritchard, centre Krisnan Inu, and possibly lock Greg Eastwood and winger Sam Perrett, in the Kiwis' squad.
''Mal and the Queensland Rugby League had a brief discussion with Sam many months ago, but since that discussion it's been evident Sam had the intention to represent New Zealand,'' the ARLC's director of league integration and development, Andrew Hill, said. ''Sam has made no official application to nominate Australia as his country of election.''
The Australian squad will also be selected today, with the Melbourne fullback Billy Slater still battling a knee problem. Slater maintained after the Storm's grand-final win that he would be fit to play in the Test, but he will be assessed further before he is given the all-clear.
Should he be ruled unfit, Newcastle's Darius Boyd and South Sydney's Greg Inglis are the most likely options to replace him, still leaving Ben Barba out in the cold.
Yesterday, the Australian coach Tim Sheens suggested that the Bulldogs' five-eighth Josh Reynolds was a more likely candidate for a bench utility spot than Barba.
''We'll pick a 19-man squad after we find out how the players involved in the grand final pulled up,'' Sheens told AAP.
''I'm not saying he [Barba] will or won't be considered by the selectors. Any player playing well will, and Reynolds falls into that category.
''When it comes to a utility spot in the Australian side, it's about what positions Barba can cover. You need to cover your forwards and all the way to fullback. So it'll come down to picking someone who can play halves and hookers, and the other utility would be someone who can play back-row and also at outside back.''
The Australians have had a host of withdrawals for the Test recently. Forwards Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, Ben Creagh, Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart have been ruled out due to injury, along with backs Justin Hodges and Brett Stewart.
Sydney Morning Herald