Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney acknowledges captain Simon Mannering has had a tough year but insists the back-rower is as keen as ever to lead the side on their end-of-year tour of England.

As expected, Mannering was included in the initial 15-man group named in the Kiwis train-on squad yesterday, with Kearney leaving it up to the 28-year-old to decide whether he wanted to make the trip north in November for three tests against England and a warm-up match against Leeds.

After completing another full NRL season playing in all of the Warriors 24 games, Mannering has indicated he wants to make the tour and add to his 41 test appearances.

However, Kearney is mindful of the physical toll the year has taken and said Mannering's workload would be carefully managed.


"I've asked the question of Simon and he's very keen to be a part of the group and the tour," said Kearney.

"It's about being smart about that and managing his time over the next month. It's not like I'm taking them on an army camp, it's not as tough or as stressful as it would be being part of a pre-season.

"If he made me aware that he felt a bit tired and would struggle with the tour then I'd be the first to say you stay home and have some time off.

"But he's indicated that he's really keen to be a part of it and that's all that I really need to hear."

At the other end of the selection spectrum, Warriors rookies Tui Lolohea and Solomone Kata were also named, with Parramatta back-rower Manu Mau, and Wests Tigers pair Tim Simona and Manaia Cherrington, the other uncapped players.

Warriors back-rower Bodene Thompson was also chosen, after being a non-playing member of the squad that won last year's Four Nations.

Penrith's Elijah Taylor was mistakenly left off the list, but Kearney confirmed he will join the wider training group once he has recovered from a thumb injury.

Kearney admired the way both Lolohea and Kata had performed in their first full NRL season, with the latter winning his spot above out of favour Warriors teammate Konrad Hurrell.

Hurrell was last year included in the Four Nations train-on squad, but an unsettled NRL campaign saw him finish this season on the Warriors bench, before being dropped to NSW Cup for last week's final round.

Kearney confirmed Kata's impressive season, in which he registered 12 tries as the Warriors leading try scorer, had seen him leapfrog Hurrell in the selector's thinking.

"I'm more interested in the guys with the form of the likes of Solomone and guys who have stepped up," he said. "I've got no doubt that Konrad will get himself back in contention to be part of the larger group."

Lolohea's versatility could see him slot in anywhere in the backline, but Kearney refrained from declaring him a front-line contender for the vacant No7 jersey in the absence of injured halfback Shaun Johnson.

"He's certainly got a future with the Kiwi group. Where that is at this particular moment we're still to determine. If he's fortunate enough to go on tour, the calibre of players that he'll be surrounded with would even enhance his development."

The wider Kiwis group consists of about 40 players and more will be named over the next month as teams are eliminated from the NRL finals.

Train-on camps will begin on September 23 in Auckland and Sydney, with the 23-strong touring side to be announced soon after the NRL grand final on October 4.

Kiwis train-on squad: Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tgiers), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Solomone Kata (NZ Warriors), Tui Lolohea (NZ Warriors), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Ben Matulino (NZ Warriors), Manu Mau (Parramatta Eels), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Tim Simona (Wests Tigers), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Elijah Taylor (Penrith Panthers), Bodene Thompson (NZ Warriors), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers).