Maitua locked in for Kangaroos

Canterbury Bulldogs utility Reni Maitua will make his debut for Australia at lock in the opening Tri-Nations Rugby League clash against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.

The former Souths junior could have also qualified to play for New Zealand but pledged his allegiances to the country in which he has played all his Rugby League.

The selection comes after a stand out season for the Bulldogs who were beaten by eventual premiers the Brisbane Broncos in the semi finals.

Bulldogs teammate and fellow Australian forward Willie Mason warned New Zealand to treat the rookie with respect.

“If they want to try and bash him or anything like that, he’s a man, he can take it — and I’m sure he’ll dish some out as well,” Mason told reporters.

Former Bulldog Johnathan Thurston was selected in the contentious half back position after the international retirement of Newcastle Knights captain Andrew Johns.

Beaten Grand Finalists the Melbourne Storm will also be represented by Greg Inglis will play on the wing and captain Cameron Smith who has been named as hooker.

Meanwhile, their opponents New Zealand have chosen four new caps to play Australia as they bid to defend their Tri-Nations crown.
Sydney Rooster Iosia Soliola and Manly’s Steve Matai have come into the starting 13 and New Zealand Warrior Simon Mannering will move out of his usual position in the centres and into the forwards for his first Test.
There was also something of a shock when Melbourne Storm prop Adam Blair was named on the reserves bench following his National Rugby League grand final appearance 10 days ago.
“He’s got good footwork, which is what we are going to need. We are carrying two props on the interchange, which helps us with keeping our middle ticking over,” coach Brian McClennan said.
The animated coach also added though Simon Mannering would adapt well in his move into the pack.
“He’s big, he’s tall and he’s very fast,” he said.
“I always like to have somebody with some good speed in the middle of the park.”
Australia: Karmichael Hunt (Brisbane Broncos), Matt King (Melbourne Storm),  Mark Gasnier (St George Illawarra Dragons), Justin Hodges (Brisbane  Broncos), Greg Inglis (Melbourne Storm), Darren Lockyer (Brisbane  Broncos, captain), Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys),  Willie Mason (Bulldogs), Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm), Petero  Civoniceva (Brisbane Broncos), Luke O’Donnell (North Queensland  Cowboys), Nathan Hindmarsh (Parramatta Eels), Reni Maitua  (Bulldogs).

Reserves: Mark O’Meley (Bulldogs), Shaun Berrigan (Brisbane  Broncos), Andrew Ryan (Bulldogs), Brent Kite (Manly Sea Eagles).

New Zealand: Brent Webb (NZ Warriors), Tame Tupou (Brisbane Broncos), Iosia  Soliola (Sydney Roosters), Steve Matai (Manly Sea Eagles), Manu  Vatuvei (NZ Warriors), Nigel Vagana  (Cronulla Sharks), Stacey Jones  (Catalans), Ruben Wiki (NZ Warriors, captain), Dene Halatau (Wests  Tigers), Roy Asotasi (Canterbury Bulldogs), David Kidwell (Melbourne  Storm), Tony Puletua (Penrith Panthers), Simon Mannering (NZ  Warriors).

Reserves: Jerome Ropati (NZ Warriors), Nathan Cayless (St  Helens), Adam Blair (Melbourne Storm), Frank Pritchard (Penrith  Panthers).

Source : AFP

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