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Quartet Recalled For Pirtek Kiwis' World Cup Opener Against Australia

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NZ Rugby League.jpg
NZ Rugby League.jpg

22 October 2008 - Captain Nathan Cayless, Lance Hohaia and Manu Vatuvei are back in the line-up for the official opening match of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup against Australia at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday night.

They were all originally named to face Tonga in last Saturday's international at Mt Smart Stadium before being withdrawn for precautionary reasons.

But today Pirtek Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney said Cayless (knee) plus Vatuvei and Hohaia - both with hamstring niggles last week - were ready to play.

Also back from a stint on the sideline after a minor knee operation is experienced utility Dene Halatau, who has been named on the bench to play his 14th test.

"In the end we didn't want to take any risks with Nathan, Manu and Lance against Tonga," said Kearney.

"It made sense to keep them out of that match after they'd all played for the All Golds against New Zealand Maori (on October 12).

"Now they're right to go against Australia and Dene has also recovered well from his operation."

Kearney said the effect of having all players available - apart from injured centre Iosia Soliola - was some major selection headaches.

"It's a good position to be in having so many players competing for spots but it still doesn't make it any easier picking the side. It means there are players who are left disappointed."

Apart from bringing in Hohaia at fullback, Vatuvei on the left wing, Cayless at prop and Halatau on the bench, Kearney has also made some positional switches.

Hohaia's availability means Sam Perrett, who played impressively at fullback last week, reverts to the right wing.

Melbourne's Adam Blair remains as a starting prop with Vodafone Warriors front rower Sam Rapira moving to the interchange. Melbourne's Sika Manu comes into the starting line-up in his second test with Roosters utility Setaimata Sa swapping to take a place on the bench.

South Sydney's David Fa'alogo, originally named as 18th man for the Tonga test, finished up with a bench spot for that match but he moves out of the side again as a result of Cayless' return. Halatau replaces South Sydney's Issac Luke.

The team includes 14 players who were involved in finals football in either the NRL or Super League competitions. Manly's Steve Matai and the Melbourne trio of Jeremy Smith - used as stand-in skipper against Tonga - Blair and Manu were all involved in the NRL grand final. The Vodafone Warriors have six players included in the side.

WORLD CUP

PIRTEK KIWIS v AUSTRALIA

SYDNEY FOOTBALL STADIUM, SYDNEY

7.55PM, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2008 PIRTEK KIWIS

1 LANCE HOHAIA 2 SAM PERRETT 3 STEVE MATAI 4 JEROME ROPATI 5 MANU VATUVEI 6 BENJI MARSHALL 7 THOMAS LEULUAI 8 NATHAN CAYLESS (c) 9 NATHAN FIEN 10 ADAM BLAIR 11 SIMON MANNERING 12 SIKA MANU 13 JEREMY SMITH Interchange: 14 DENE HALATAU 15 GREG EASTWOOD 16 SETAIMATA SA 17 SAM RAPIRA

COACH: STEPHEN KEARNEY

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