Three Northlanders plying their trade in the NRL have been named in the Kiwis squad to face their Australian counterparts next month.
Whangarei's Adam Blair, who has strong ties to Broadwood and plays with the NZ Warriors, and the Far North's James Fisher-Harris and Corey Harawira-Naera, who both play for Penrith Panthers, have been named in the Kiwis wider squad for the test against Australia in Auckland on October 13.
The trio are among the players named in the Kiwis, Junior Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns squads, who will all play tests against the Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium on October 13.
Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire and Junior Kiwis head coach Ezra Howe have collaborated in consultation with the Kiwis selection panel consisting of Mark Horo, Hugh McGahon and Tawera Nikau, to name the best New Zealand eligible players in the running to play in the Trans-Tasman Showdown next month.
On Saturday, October 13, the Kiwis, Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis will come up against their Australian counterparts in a battle that will have the winner lift the Trans-Tasman Cup.
The triple-header marks the first time since 2014 that players from all three representative teams will get the opportunity to run out in front of a home crowd filled with family, friends and fans.
For players such as Blair, pulling on the black and white jumper compares to nothing else.
"I'd represent my country any day of the week. We love playing games here at home in front of our family and friends. To see the fans turn out and sing the national anthem alongside us is something special," Blair said.
Ahead of Maguire's second outing at the helm of the Kiwis, his first in New Zealand, he looks forward to working with the players who can't wait to get into Kiwis camp. The test earlier in the year against England provided him with insights into many of the players in the wider squad and he says he's "looking forward to the re-introduction of senior players such as Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Tohu Harris who will inject years of experience and leadership back into the squad".
Isaiah Papali'i also finds himself in both the Kiwis and Junior Kiwis wider squads at the age of 19. His announcement in both wider squads will be the cherry on top following last night's awards where he also picked up Warriors Rookie Player of the Year.
Joining Papali'i in the Junior Kiwis wider squad, also 19-years-old is Manase Fainu who has been impressive as starting hooker for the Manly Sea Eagles in his first year in first grade.
Kiwis wider squad:
Brisbane Broncos: Jamayne Isaako, Jordan Kahu, Kodi Nikorima; Canberra Raiders: Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine; Canterbury Bulldogs: Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Reimis Smith; Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: Sosaia Feki; Gold Coast Titans: Kevin Proctor; Manly Sea Eagles: Martin Taupau; Melbourne Storm: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich, Jahrome Hughes, Brandon Smith; Newcastle Knights: Herman Ese'ese, Danny Levi; North Queensland Cowboys: Te Maire Martin; Penrith Panthers: James Fisher-Harris, Corey Harawira-Naera, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dean Whare; St George Illawarra Dragons: Leeson Ah Mau; Sydney Roosters: Isaac Liu, Joseph Manu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves; New Zealand Warriors: Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Tohu Harris, Peta Hiku, Shaun Johnson, Issac Luke, Ken Maumalo, Isaiah Papali'i, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; Wests Tigers: Esan Marsters.