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Canterbury league club hails first Kiwis rep
TONY SMITH AND STEVE KILGALLON
Canterbury's Northern Bulldogs rugby league club can celebrate their first "home" grown Kiwi with Melbourne Storm wing Matt Duffie's naming in the Anzac test squad for Friday night's match against Australia on the Gold Coast.
The 20-year-old Auckland-born back had two seasons in the junior grades for the-then Kaiapoi Bulldogs as a teenager when his family moved to Christchurch on a job transfer.
Duffie told The Press last month he regarded himself as a dual product of the Bulldogs and Pakuranga Jaguars (Auckland clubs).
Bulldogs stalwart Russell Tuuta, a former New Zealand Residents forward who was Duffie's coach, said last night as far as he knew the Storm man was the first Bulldogs junior to make a full Kiwis side.
Duffie, Brisbane Broncos fullback Gerard Beale and Warriors utility Lewis Brown – a former Canterbury Bulls representative – are the only players in the 19-man squad yet to win a test cap. Brown has previously made a Kiwi test squad but may be frustrated again.
Last night, Kiwi selectors named a 19-man squad but not a starting lineup, and Fairfax understands the likely 18th and 19th men are Brown and Beale.
Australian-born Beale, 20, played for the Junior Kangaroos last year but has switched allegiance and has shone for Brisbane this season since slotting in at fullback after an injury to Josh Hoffman. A cousin of former All Black Zinzan Brooke, he had played just one first grade game before this season after breaking his arm last year.
Manly halfback Kieran Foran has overcome a calf problem sustained in club football on Saturday to claim the No7 jersey for the Kiwi side.
But the Kiwis have lost prop Roy Asotasi, who was ruled out with a broken wrist and has been replaced by Greg Eastwood.
Foran toured England with New Zealand in 2009 with props Sam Rapira and Fuifui Moimoi, who all missed the 2010 Four Nations triumph but earn recalls. Thirteen of that champion side from last year are retained, with Frank Paul Nuuausala dropped after indifferent form, Thomas Leuluai not flown back from England and Sika Manu and Sam Perrett injured.
Foran is likely to pair with Benji Marshall in the halves, with regular Kiwis scrumhalf Nathan Fien playing in his club position of hooker and Issac Luke coming from the bench. It's likely veteran Lance Hohaia will hold off Beale's challenge for the fullback spot.
"We're excited about the group of players we've been able to bring together and it's a real thrill to have two new players in the squad in Matt (Duffie) and Gerard (Beale)," said Kiwis coach Steve Kearney. "While we've had some success against Australia in the last few years, we haven't done well in the Anzac test. The challenge for us is to prepare really well to give ourselves a chance of competing with them."
The Kiwis assembled on the Gold Coast last night and were due to have their first training run at Burleigh this afternoon after a morning photo call.
Meanwhile, youngsters Jharal Yow Yeh and Jamal Idris have been selected to debut for Australia.
Brisbane wing Yow Yeh, 21, continued his meteoric rise when he claimed a starting berth in the 17-man squad featuring 11 other Queenslanders.
Bulldogs centre Idris was picked on the bench for the match at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast after it was transferred from Christchurch following the February 22 earthquake.
- © Fairfax NZ News