Rugby League: Two changes to Kiwis for Kangaroos test

By Michael Burgess in Birmingham

Gerard Beale will start against Australia. Photo / Getty
Gerard Beale will start against Australia. Photo / Getty

The absence of a veteran winger and the return of a long-serving forward are the significant aspects of the Kiwis team named to face Australia on Sunday (NZT).

As suspected, winger Jason Nightingale has failed to recover from a nasty ankle injury sustained in the 17-16 win over England last week and is replaced by Gerard Beale.

The other change is also injury enforced, with Bulldogs forward Greg Eastwood coming into the 17 man squad for Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who is carrying a knee strain and isn't deemed to be 100 per cent fit.

Adam Blair, who was so impressive off the bench against England, will be part of the starting rotation in place of Waerea-Hargreaves.

Listen: Kiwis forward Kevin Proctor on facing Australia

Otherwise coach David Kidwell has named the same lineup that performed so well in Huddersfield, with Joseph Tapine and David Fusitua selected as cover on an extended bench.

"It's tough losing players of Nighty's [Nightingale] and Jared's [Waerea-Hargreaves] talent and experience," said Kidwell.

"We are fortunate to have quality reinforcements who understand what international football is all about."

The changes don't significantly weaken the Kiwis. Beale has played only eight tests but has been around on the international scene since 2011 and was part of Cronulla's recent Cinderella season, though he was played off the bench in the final few weeks of the season.

Like Nightingale, he is a solid rather than spectacular; he will no doubt be tested under the high ball and in the tough carries out of his own territory, but he has done the job before at this level.

And while Waerea-Hargreaves was better against England than he was in Perth in the 26-6 defeat to Australia, he was the least impressive of the Kiwis' starting pack in Huddersfield.

Blair has been a consistent performer over the last few years, and will relish the chance to be on the field from the start.

Eastwood will have a lot to prove. After being mainstay of the team since the turn of the decade, the 29-year-old was the notable omission from the Kiwis tour of England last year.

The 24-test Kiwi returned to the fold in the Anzac test in May in Newcastle but had an underwhelming game, like many of the New Zealand players in the 16-0 loss.

Kiwis team to face Australia on Sunday 9am (NZT)

1. Jordan Kahu
2. Gerard Beale
3 Solomone Kata
4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Thomas Leuluai
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Issac Luke
10. Adam Blair
11. Kevin Proctor
12. Tohu Harris
13. Jason Taumalolo
14. Lewis Brown
15. Martin Taupau
16. Manu Ma'u
17. Greg Eastwood
18. Joseph Tapine
19. David Fusitu'a

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- NZ Herald

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