Teenage sensation Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will have to wait a little longer still for his NZ Kiwis test debut, after falling foul of the NRL judiciary in the build-up to Friday’s Anzac Test at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
The young winger was charged with a Grade 1 Dangerous Throw after the Penrith Panthers’ win over Cronulla Sharks on Sunday and after consulting with club and national team management, he elected to accept the charge and cop a one-week suspension.
Watene-Zelezniak (19) was due to be named in the Kiwis starting line-up for this week’s test against Australia, but will now miss out for the second time in six months, after breaking a bone in his foot on the eve of last October’s Four Nations opener against the Kangaroos at the same venue.
Last night, veteran international Jason Nightingale was flown in to replace Watene-Zelezniak.
“We’re all gutted for Dallin and I know he’s very disappointed too,” says Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney. “He’s a wonderful kid, who was excited to be back in camp and champing at the bit to finally play for his country.
“But we took a look at the incident on video and there was little likelihood that we could get it scaled down if we’d fought it. Under the circumstances, we were better off taking it on the chin and moving on in our short preparation for this test, than diverting our energy into a judicial battle.
“It is what it is, but it’s important we move on quickly as a group. I’m sure Dallin will come back again and be a real asset to this team for many years to come.
“It says a lot for our depth right now that we can call in someone of Jason Nightingale’s quality as a replacement.”
Nightingale was the leading Four Nations tryscorer, but had been sidelined for several weeks, before returning to action for the St George Dragons over the weekend.
Otherwise, the Kiwis line-up contains few surprises, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (fullback), Ben Matulino (prop) and Sam Moa (prop) returning from their Four Nations absence, and utility Peta Hiku slotting into the centres to replace injured Dean Whare.
Versatile Lewis Brown fills the 18th man position.
The full Kiwis team is:
1-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2-Jason Nightingale, 3-Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 4-Peta Hiku, 5-Manu Vatuvei, 6-Kieran Foren, 7-Shaun Johnson, 8-Jesse Bromwich, 9-Issac Luke, 10-Ben Matulino, 11-Tohu Harris, 12-Kevin Proctor, 13-Simon Mannering ©, 14-Thomas Leuluai, 15-Matin Taupau, 16-Sam Moa, 17-Greg Eastwood, 18-Lewis Brown
The full Kiwi Ferns team to face Australia Jillaroos in the Anzac Test curtainraiser is:
1-Janna Vaughan, 2-Atawhai Tupaea, 3-Nora Maaka, 4-Tasha Davie, 5-Shontelle Dudley, 6-Laura Mariu (c), 7-Rona Peters, 8-Kelly Maipi, 9-Sharnita Woodman, 10-Krystal Murray, 11-Teuila Fotu-Moala, 12-Hilda Peters, 13-Kahurangi Peters, 14-Georgia Hale, 15-Maitua Feterika, 16-Annabelle Hohepa, 17-Krystal Rota, 18-Kristina Sue
The full Junior Kiwis side to face Junior Kangaroos on Saturday at Gold Coast’s Cbus Stadium is:
1-Jamayne Issako, 2-Tony Tumusa, 3-Taane Milne, 4-Watson Heleta, 5-Joseph Manu, 6-Te Maire Martin, 7-Zach Dockar-Clay, 8-Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 9-Sione Katoa, 10-James Fisher-Harris, 11-Lamar Liolevave, 12-Marata Niukore, 13-Jazz Tevaga, 14-Daniel Levi, 15-Braden Uele, 16-Toatofoa Sipley, 17-Renouf To’omaga, 18-Bunty Afoa