Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns named for Rugby League World Cup
Back-to-back NRL premiership winners James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen are among six grand finalists named in the New Zealand Kiwis’ 24-man squad for the Rugby League World Cup in England.
The trio have been confirmed after making impressive contributions in Penrith’s 28-12 victory over the Parramatta Eels in Sunday’s NRL decider in Sydney.
The Penrith players are joined by Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore from the beaten Eels side.
All six players were in the Kiwis’ extended squad which went into camp for the June Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium, a match which saw Brown, Niukore and Leota make their New Zealand Test debuts alongside the previously capped Fisher-Harris and Papali’i while Sorensen was on the extended bench.
“Selecting the squad for the World Cup was a real challenge given the quality of players in contention,” Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire said.
“There were some tough calls to make but we’re excited about the group we’ve settled on.”
Seasoned middle forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Isaac Liu plus fullback-centre Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad return.
Waerea-Hargreaves and 2019 Kiwi Nicoll-Klokstad were unavailable for the Tonga Test due to injury while Liu, after being originally selected, remained in Australia to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s second child.
The only new face in the squad is 23-year-old centre Sebastian Kris, who has scored 25 tries in his 44 NRL appearances for Canberra.
Born in Brisbane, Kris is of New Zealand descent through his Huntly-raised mother.
Another player making a return is Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs hooker Jeremy Marshall-King. Uncapped at Test level, he was in the Kiwi squad for the World Nines in 2019.
Kiwi Ferns head coach Ricky Henry has confirmed his squad which includes 2022 NRLW Dally M medallist Raecene McGregor.
Following on from winning the 2021 NRLW Premiership with the Sydney Roosters earlier this year, McGregor dominated this season leading with 10 try assists.
She was also the club’s first player to pick up Halfback of the Year in the NRLW Team of the Year.
Also selected in the squad was dual-code star Shanice Parker who took part in this year’s NRLW Grand Final for the Newcastle Knights against the Parramatta Eels.
Brisbane’s powerhouse props Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala, Amber-Paris Hall and Brianna Clark bolster an already strong forward pack alongside their teammate Crystal Tamarua.
Tamarua made a remarkable comeback to the game this year from an ankle injury that forced her to withdraw from last season with the Titans.
Gold Coast star winger Madison Bartlett and lock Georgia Hale were also named, while their fullback Apii Nicholls earned the call-up after a two-year hiatus, alongside potential debutants Otesa Pule (Sydney Roosters) and Mele Hufanga.
Kiwi Fern veterans Krystal Rota, Nita Maynard and Charlotte Scanlan return to the roster, while Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Karli Hansen and Mya Hill-Moana, who all earned their Kiwi Fern debuts in 2020 against Fetu Samoa join them.
Among the standouts returning from this year’s June Test v Mate Ma’a Tonga are Page McGregor, Laishon Albert-Jones, Christyl Stowers, Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly, Roxy Murdoch-Masila, Kararaina Wira-Kohu and Hailee-jay Ormond-Maunsell.
“We’re excited about the players we’ve listed based on their current form,” Henry said.
“The vast majority are fresh off NRLW campaigns adding plenty of experience to the mix of leaders and new talent.”
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how we compete against top-tier international teams over in York and I want to congratulate each member of the squad on this achievement of representing our country at the World Cup.”
Kiwi Ferns squad: Amber-Paris Hall, Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala, Apii Nicholls, Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly, Brianna Clark, Charlotte Scanlan, Christyl Stowers, Crystal Tamarua, Georgia Hale, Hailee-Jay Ormond-Maunsell, Kararaina Wira-Kohu, Karli Hansen, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Krystal Rota, Laishon Albert-Jones, Madison Bartlett, Mele Hufanga, Mya Hill-Moana, Nita Maynard, Otesa Pule, Page McGregor, Raecene McGregor, Roxy Murdoch-Masila, Shanice Parker.
Kiwis squad: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich, Dylan Brown, James Fisher-Harris, Kieran Foran, Peta Hiku, Jahrome Hughes, Sebastian Kris, Moses Leota, Isaac Liu, Joseph Manu, Jeremy Marshall-King, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Briton Nikora, Marata Niukore, Isaiah Papali’I, Jordan Rapana, Brandon Smith, Scott Sorensen, Joseph Tapine, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
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