League: Hurrell eyes Kiwis jersey

By Michael Brown in Halifax

Konrad Hurrell says he was disappointed not to take on New Zealand. Picture / Getty Images
Konrad Hurrell says he was disappointed not to take on New Zealand. Picture / Getty Images

Konrad Hurrell says his international future lies with New Zealand.

The powerful centre has no regrets about playing for Tonga at the World Cup, even though they failed to achieve their goal of making at least the quarter-finals, but he is poised to switch allegiance.

The 22-year-old declared early his intention to play for the country of his birth, which was a blow for the Kiwis who lack depth at centre, and Tonga were expected to reach the last eight and take the game to New Zealand.

They ended their World Cup campaign on a better note yesterday with a 16-0 defeat of Italy, a result that ruined the Azzurri's hopes of making the quarter-finals and instead handed Scotland a date with the Kiwis on Saturday morning (NZT), but it was a disappointing campaign for Tonga.

Their 24-26 opening defeat to Scotland, when they had a try ruled out on the final whistle, ultimately cost them dearly.

"I'm glad I have represented my country when I'm young. I can still develop my career now,'' Hurrell said.

"I know myself I wasn't ready to play for the Kiwis. It was a good chance for me to play at the World Cup.

"Hopefully I can develop my game over the next couple of years and hopefully play for the Kiwis.

"As a kid back home it was always a dream to [play for the Kiwis]. Now I'm in a good place to crack that. I will train harder and develop my game and hopefully the Kiwis will pick me next time.''

They probably would have picked him this time, although they have more issues at left centre than on the right where Hurrell plays - Dean Whare and Krisnan Inu are both right-sided centres.

He showed this year with the Warriors he can be a match-winner with his powerful running but he was also vulnerable on defence.

He put one enormous hit on Italy's Cameron Ciraldo that left the second-rower needing medical treatment and it was defence that won Tonga the game over Italy. They scrambled well when they needed to - Italy were twice denied when over the line - and dominated their opponents with their size and power.

"We knew [before the match] we couldn't make it to the quarter-finals but we tried to give back to Tonga,'' Hurrell said.

"We let ourselves down. We knew we were better than that. It was good to finish on a good note for the people and supporters.

"It's been disappointing because we all wanted to have a go at the Kiwis but we came up short.''

The Kiwis would probably still have been too good for Tonga but it would have been a bruising encounter. One school of thought is that you want to have a tough match heading into the semifinals and final when the pressure is intensified but New Zealand will also be mindful of keeping everyone healthy, especially after losing Thomas Leuluai for the rest of the tournament and a handful of others picking up injuries against Papua New Guinea.

Scotland will be well organised and have a decent halves pairing in Peter Wallace and Danny Brough but have only three individuals who play in the NRL.

"I have a feeling New Zealand will win the World Cup,'' Hurrell said.

"They will go all the way with the boys they have.''

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 26 Dec 2014 02:55:35 Processing Time: 751ms