An unprecedented 16 Māori players have been named in the 24-man Kiwis squad named today by the head coach, David Kidwell.
After scoring in Sunday's NRL grand final, Jesse Bromwich has been given the captaincy of the side, even though, Simon Mannering has made the squad. Adam Blair (Te Rarawa) and Greg Eastwood (Tainui) will likely combine to make an all Māori front-row.
Te Maire Martin (Tainui) is set to make his debut for the national side, named alongside veterans Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Issac Luke, and Jason Nightingale. Thomas Leuleuai (Ngāpuhi) also makes the side.
After a stand-out season for the Canberra Raiders, Jordan Rapana is also set to debut for the Kiwis, alongside teammate Joseph Tapine. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak round out the Māori talent in the side.
There is no denying the Māori talent amongst those selected for the Kiwi's squad. The speed of Jordan Rapana. The flair of Te Maire Martin. The power of Joseph Tapine.
Kidwell says, “I definitely want a really fit team to go into the Perth Test and the Four Nations. That's one of the things I'm pretty strong with.
Nearly 70% of the side named by new head coach Kidwell is of Māori descent.
He says, “Selecting this group of players, we've had the World Cup in mind, but we've also got a job to do, but we've also got an important job in Perth.”
After a spectacular NRL season, Jesse Bromwich has gained the honour of being named the captain.
“He's very humble. So he was just another great leader and I know down in the Melbourne Storm they think very highly of him,” says Kidwell.
Meanwhile, in the Kangaroos camp, James Tamou has been left out of the squad for the October 15 fixture. With Cronulla star, James Maloney brought on alongside NSW teammate, Matt Moylan in Mal Meninga's first Australia side named today.
However, Kidwell is taking it all in his stride.
“We've selected a really strong squad, and making sure we're coming together.”
The Kiwis squad will assemble in Perth over next weekend for the test against Australia on October 15.