League: Kearney to explain JWH decision

By Michael Brown in Sydney

Stephen Kearney says he will contact Jared Waerea Hargreaves next week to explain why he was left out of the Kiwis for tomorrow night's Anzac test in Sydney. Photo / Getty.
Stephen Kearney says he will contact Jared Waerea Hargreaves next week to explain why he was left out of the Kiwis for tomorrow night's Anzac test in Sydney. Photo / Getty.

Coach Stephen Kearney says he will contact Jared Waerea Hargreaves next week to explain why he was left out of the Kiwis for tomorrow night's Anzac test in Sydney.

Waerea-Hargreaves was a controversial omission from the side to tackle Australia and told Sydney's Daily Telegraph he felt he deserved an explanation, especially given his age and the fact Kearney has said he's building for the future.

"Obviously I am extremely disappointed,'' he said. "Not just at not being selected but after hearing that it has got to do with form and the future plans of the Kiwis, when I heard that sort of stuff I started thinking I am only 25.

"I am not really coming to the end of my career.''

Kearney said the door had not shut for any player overlooked and he was happy to explain his decision to Waerea-Hargreaves.

"I haven't seen what he said but I will talk to Jared once this week is over, as I will a number of other players who haven't been selected,'' Kearney said.

"If I rang every player who has missed out on the Kiwi jumper my phone bill would be very, very high.

"I will definitely give him the explanation why. As I said at the start of this week, we picked this side on form and with the future in mind, talking about 12 months, 24 months, 36 months.''

It has been an unwelcome distraction to what has already been a difficult week for Kearney. Shorn of as many as 14 players through injury, including key individuals like Kieran Foran, Issac Luke and Thomas Leuluai, he has also copped criticism for his selections including Isaac John and Tohu Harris to play at five-eighth and Ben Henry at hooker.

Many expect them to be well beaten by an Australian side considered arguably the best in history and on a 15-match winning run. The Kiwis also haven't won the Anzac test since 1998 and have beaten Australia only once since the 2008 World Cup triumph.

"We know what we are up against,'' Kearney said. "We are not going out there to lose. Our expectation is to get our performance right and I'm sure if we do that we will surprise a few.

"We understand outside the group there has been a bit of negativity but we get an opportunity tomorrow night to play for our country. I know the 17 guys who run out for us will do a wonderful job and will play with a great deal of spirit and energy.''

John has been named to start at five-eighth but Kearney said he had not settled on his final starting lineup. He confirmed Harris was likely to see time in the halves despite the fact he is a second-rower who has never played there before.

"There's a chance you could [see him play at five-eighth]. Tohu has size in that position, he has a good passing game and Kevin Proctor, who will play on that side of the field, they play at club level together. That's a positive aspect for him being there. There are a lot of positives.''

It will put considerable pressure on Shaun Johnson in the main playmaking role and the Warriors halfback sees it as an opportunity to be in the game more and deliver a good performance. He's also dismissive of the criticism aimed at the camp.

"It's funny,'' he said. "People are paying a lot more attention to it than we are. We don't really care. Let people think like that.

"In some ways it releases the pressure. We have everything to play for. Whatever the result, if we perform for 80 minutes then people can only say good things about us. They are already writing us off. We are confident and if we all turn up and perform our best and with the right attitude anything is possible.''

- APNZ

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