Rising Penrith star Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is set to be robbed a New Zealand rugby league Test debut for a second time in six months.
Less than a day after being selected in the Kiwis team to play Australia on Friday, 19-year-old winger Watene-Zelezniak was charged by the NRL match review committee with a grade one dangerous throw on Cronulla’s Wade Graham in Sunday’s NRL match at Pepper Stadium.
Even with an early guilty plea, Watene-Zelezniak faces a one-match suspension due to a past offence loading, meaning he would have to beat the charge at a judiciary hearing to make his first Test appearance.
However, early indications were that Penrith would accept the one-match sanction because they saw little chance of beating it, meaning he would miss the Suncorp Stadium Test match.
Watene-Zelezniak was previously named to debut for New Zealand in last year’s Four Nations series opener against Australia but fractured a foot in a freak accident at the beach just days prior to the match and missed the whole series.
St George Illawarra veteran Jason Nightingale is expected to get a call up to replace him in the Kiwis team this time.
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney said Watene-Zelezniak had been “really looking forward to the opportunity”.
Speaking after Sunday’s clash with Cronulla and before his Test selection, Watene-Zelezniak said it would “mean everything” to make his Test debut, particularly since his great grandfather captained New Zealand in the 1930s.
“It’d be real special, especially for my family,” he said.
“I think they’d be more excited than me.
“What I heard, I haven’t seen his games, but people tell me that he was an awesome player and an awesome bloke.
“Obviously last year I got injured when I got named. I want to pick up where I didn’t start.
“Hopefully it’d be a dream come true.”