NZ Rugby League

Date: 23/9/14

North Queensland second row Jason Taumalolo is in line for an NZ Kiwis debut, after being added to the train-on squad for the upcoming Four Nations.

Three players have joined the squad, with the Cowboys and Manly Sea Eagles eliminated from the NRL playoff race over the weekend.

Taumalolo, and Manly’s Peta Hiku and Kieran Foran bring the wider group to 28, while several more candidates are still alive in the NRL finals.

Hiku played at fullback in the Anzac Test loss to Australia in May and Foran has established himself as a virtually automatic selection in any Kiwis line-up.

But Taumalolo, a former Junior Kiwi, has yet to take the field for the senior side – he was a non-playing member of the 2012 Anzac squad and represented Tonga at last year’s Rugby League World Cup.

He was poised to make his Kiwis debut in May, but picked up an injury on the eve of the squad assembling in Sydney and was unavailable.

“Jason’s been on our radar for a while now, so it’s not like he’s suddenly dropped out of the sky,” says coach Stephen Kearney.

“Over the past two months, Jason’s form has been really impressive and, again, he was probably the best forward out on the field last week against the Sydney Roosters.”

With players from the Roosters, Canterbury Bulldogs, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers still to come, the train-on squad so far is:

Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Kenny Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Fa’amanu Brown (Cronulla Sharks), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles) David Fusitu’a (Vodafone Warriors), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Siliva Havili (Vodafone Warriors), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), Shaun Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), Ngani Laumape (Vodafone Warriors), Thomas Leuluai (Vodafone Warriors), Simon Mannering (Vodafone Warriors), Suaia Matagi (Vodafone Warriors), Ben Matulino (Vodafone Warriors), Matt McIlwrick (Canberra Raiders), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers), Brad Takairangi (Gold Coast Titans), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors)

Meanwhile, 11 more players have been included in the Junior Kiwis train-on squad, after Wests Tigers and Newcastle Knights were knocked out of the National Youth Competition.

The newcomers include four who were named in the 2014 Holden Cup Team of the Year this month – Manaia Cheerington, Danny Levi, Te Maire Martin and Joseph Tapine.

The Junior Kiwis train-on squad so far is:

Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tigers), Herman Ese’ese (Canterbury Bulldogs), Dallas Graham (Wests Tigers), Watson Heleta (Wests Tigers), Delouise Hoeter (Wests Tigers), Jahrome Hughes (Gold Coast Titans), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights), Lamar Liolevave (Wests Tigers), Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters), Sam Manuleleua (South Sydney Roosters), Te Maire Martin (Wests Tigers), Taan Milne (Sydney Roosters), Una Mohi (Melbourne Storm), Chance Peni (Newcastle Knights), Pride Pettersen- Robati (Newcastle Knights), Niua Puaka (Melbourne Storm), Tulsa Saumamao (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Joseph Tapine (Newcastle Knights), James Taylor (Newcastle Knights), Renouf To’omaga (Canterbury Bulldogs), Braden Uele (Sydney Roosters)