League: Matai misses out on Kiwis train-on squad

Utility Dean Whare has been chosen in the Kiwis train-on squad ahead of Manly teammate Steve Matai who has been overlooked for next month's test with Australia. Photo / Getty Images.
Utility Dean Whare has been chosen in the Kiwis train-on squad ahead of Manly teammate Steve Matai who has been overlooked for next month's test with Australia. Photo / Getty Images.

Steve Matai's international career is on shaky ground after the controversial Manly centre was overlooked for the Kiwis train-on squad to prepare for next month's test with Australia.

The 28-year-old has played 12 tests since his debut in 2006 but hasn't played for the Kiwis since 2010. He missed the 2010 Four Nations through suspension and last year's instalment and this year's Anzac test because of injury but was overlooked for this year's squad after an indifferent season.

The Kiwis might be playing only one test after the NRL season - against Australia in Townsville on October 13 - but it's seen as an important game as preparations get under way for next year's World Cup.

It's understood Matai's form at the end of the season, on top of the suspension he served for his shot on fellow Kiwi and Bulldogs winger Sam Perrett, didn't go down well with the selectors.

Instead, they have plumped for 23-year-old Manly utility Dean Whare, who has been added to the train-on squad along with five-eighths Kieran Foran and Souths hooker Issac Luke. Their inclusion brings the train-on squad to 19.

A large number of Kiwis feature in Sunday's NRL grand final between the Bulldogs and Melbourne and they are expected to dominate the 19-man squad named by the New Zealand selectors on Tuesday.

Whare, a former Junior Kiwi, made his NRL debut this season and played centre, wing and fullback.

2012 Kiwis train-on squad:

Brisbane Broncos: Gerard Beale, Josh Hoffman
Cronulla Sharks: Jeremy Smith
Manly Sea Eagles: Kieran Foran, Dean Whare
North Queensland Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo, Antonio Winterstein
Penrith Panthers: Sam McKendry
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Issac Luke
Sydney Roosters: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Vodafone Warriors: Ben Henry, Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering, Alehana Mara, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei
Wests Tigers: Adam Blair, Benji Marshall
Unavailable: Brisbane Broncos: Alex Glenn (knee surgery); North Queensland Cowboys: Ricky Thorby (hip surgery); St George Illawarra Dragons: Nathan Fien (retired from international rugby league following April's Test), Jason Nightingale (knee surgery); Sydney Roosters: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (thigh surgery); Vodafone Warriors: Kevin Locke (injury _ high ankle sprain).

- APNZ

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