League: Non selection of Asotasi shocks Blair

Roy Asotasi. Photo / Greg Bowker
Roy Asotasi. Photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealand league vice-captain Adam Blair said he was shocked at the Four Nations double snubbing of former skipper Roy Asotasi.

Asotasi, long considered one of the best props in the NRL, has twice been overlooked for the end-of-season tournament,

A controversial non-selection when the original 23-man squad was announced, Asotasi was snubbed again this week when Parramatta star Fuifui Moimoi was ruled out with a knee injury - with Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney opting for little known Penrith prop Sam McKendry instead.

With just 29 first-grade games under his belt, McKendry is among the least experienced players in the New Zealand squad, but that didn't stop him displacing 28-year-old Asotasi.

Blair admits he was stunned to learn he would not be lining up alongside Asotasi in New Zealand's test against Samoa in Auckland on Saturday.

"It was a shock," Blair said. "[But] there's a lot of good players that missed out."

Utility back Lance Hohaia sympathised with the South Sydney captain, who missed New Zealand's 2008 World Cup triumph with a torn pectoral muscle.

"I feel for Roy, he's had a tough couple of years with injury.

"We've got a great squad and some good depth now. I know the coaches had to leave some good players out of the squad.

"[Asotasi] probably hasn't played as much footy as he would have liked over the last couple of years and that's meant he's missed out on Kiwi selection.

"I'm sure he's disappointed but it gives him a chance to freshen up his body."

Asotasi's omission does allow Kearney to unleash 115kg monster McKendry on to the international stage - a prospect which excites Kiwi enforcers Blair and Frank Pritchard.

"He's a bit of a monster. I've played against him before and he runs the ball hard," Blair said.

Pritchard has nurtured McKendry's development at the Panthers over the past three years and feels the softly spoken youngster is ready to take the next step in his career.

"He was a quiet fella but [with] a couple of first-grade games under his belt, he's becoming a man now," Pritchard said.

"He's just looking forward to putting on the black and white jersey.

"He's been really nervous around camp, so he's looking forward to the match."

- AAP

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