Melbourne Storm forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona will be a surprise inclusion in the Kiwis team to face the Kangaroos next Friday in Canberra.

The Herald on Sunday understands the giant prop, who has played only 35 NRL matches, will be part of coach David Kidwell's squad due to be named at 6pm today.

To put that in perspective, fellow boom youngster Jason Taumalolo had 60 club games behind him when he finally made his Kiwis debut in 2014.

Asofa-Solomona has turned heads with his club performances this year, but most pundits expected that while he might be in the running for the extended Kiwis World Cup squad at the end of the year, the Anzac test would be too much, too soon for the raw 21-year-old.


But Kidwell has rolled the dice, and Asofa-Solomona will add a confrontational edge to the Kiwis.

The 2m, 115kg forward will be one of the biggest men to turn out for New Zealand. He made his debut for the Storm in 2015 and has progressed steadily, with 12 appearances in his first season and 15 last year.

Asofa-Solomona, who was wooed by the Hurricanes last year before re-signing with the Storm, has played every round in 2017, lifting his average playing time to 31 minutes a game (from just 26 last year). The Wellington-born Asofa-Solomona can be a menace with the ball in hand, as he demonstrated on several occasions against the Warriors last Tuesday at AMMI Park.

But he has struggled with consistency before giving a reminder of his abilities in the Anzac Day clash.

International football will be another step up, and if Asofa-Solomona gets on the field the Kangaroos will surely test his temperament, game awareness and mobility. But he will also add another dimension to the Kiwis' pack, that hasn't been able to dominate their Australian counterparts in the last four transtasman clashes.

• Barring any injury in today's match against the Roosters, Warriors five-eighth Kieran Foran is also a certainty to make his first appearance for his country in two years.

29 Apr, 2017 2:00pm
2 minutes to read

His last game coincided with the Kiwis' most recent victory over Australia, a remarkable 26-12 win at Suncorp Stadium in May 2015. Since then the Kiwis haven't come close to their oldest rivals.

In the Anzac test last year a team ripped apart by injuries and withdrawals fell 16-0 to the Kangaroos, then a rusty New Zealand outfit was ambushed 26-6 in Perth, in Kidwell's first match in charge.

The subsequent Four Nations clash in Coventry was a better effort as the Kiwis came to life in the last quarter before going down 14-8.

But the Four Nations final at Anfield was an embarrassment. The match as a contest was effectively over after 20 minutes, as the Kiwis froze and were smashed 34-8.