Kiwis likely to call on rookies for Scotland clash
UP TO four players could make their international rugby league debuts for New Zealand against Scotland this week.
David Kidwell and his coaching staff are yet to have their final selection meeting, but it wouldn't surprise to see some new faces brought into the fold for the Four Nations game in Workington.
Nineteen of the 24-man squad have seen game time on tour in the first two matches, with only youngsters David Fusitu'a, 22, Te Maire Martin, 21, Joseph Tapine, 22, James Fisher-Harris, 20, and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 21, yet to take the field. Of those five, only Watene-Zelezniak has already played for the Kiwis, the Penrith winger turning out in the Anzac clash versus Australia this year.
Those yet to play have impressed the coaching staff with their attitude on tour and application on the training field, and some of them will get their chance on Saturday morning (6am AEST).
It's an interesting conundrum for Kidwell. He will need to put his faith in some new combinations, but will also know that the young players will bring energy and enthusiasm to the group.
The likes of Adam Blair and either Kevin Proctor or Tohu Harris are probably due a rest after their exertions over the past two weeks, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Jason Nightingale are still recovering from niggling injuries.
The Kiwis trained at Murrayfield on Tuesday morning, away from the public and media after a decision by the stadium officials to lock the session down. It was a rigorous morning's work, with one hour on wrestling and gym work followed by a 90-minute field session. It will be the only full training session of the week, with only the captain's run to follow.
The team makes the 165km journey south to Carlisle on Thursday, where it will be based in the build-up to the Test. The Cumbrian city has a notable footnote in New Zealand league, as for a short period in the early 1980s Kiwi legends Dean Bell and Clayton Friend both played at the club, as well as the late Ian Bell.