New Zealand will like their chances of picking up their second title in the Four Nations format that starts on Saturday. Stephen Kearney has named a strong line-up that will be led by Simon Mannering.
Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Siliva Havili (Vodafone Warriors), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Shaun Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), Thomas Leuluai (Vodafone Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (Vodafone Warriors), Suaia Matagi (Vodafone Warriors), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)
The Kiwis will be buoyed by their recent International success in Brisbane where they stole the 2008 World Cup and 2010 Four Nations from the home side. It will take a huge effort from Shaun Johnson to create some magic and steer the underdogs to victory in the opening week of the competition. A week later they take their Four Nations clash to the Northlands Region where they face Samoa, a game they will be expected to win. All going well they will go to Dunedin’s indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium against England with a finals berth in Wellington already confirmed.
New Zealand are no different to Australia and England as they look towards the fifteenth World Cup in 2017. Sosaia Feki and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak are waiting in the wings to take over from more experienced Manu Vatuevei and Jason Nightingale. Faith has already been shown in Watene-Zelezniak who won a wing spot for the Kangaroos clash ahead of Vatuvei.
They will also boast plenty of experience around the park. Mannering is the most capped current player in the squad with thirty-five appearances for his country. Thomas Leuluai and Isaac Luke are next on the list with twenty-nine and twenty-seven caps respectively. The likes of Kieran Foran, Greg Eastwood, Jesse Bromwich and Adam Blair are hardened National Rugby League players who can trouble the opposition.
With a disrupted Australian build-up and England missing rugby bound Sam Burgess, the opportunity to win the title on home soil in Wellington on November 15 is looking good.