Rapana heads NZ Test newcomers

In-form Canberra winger Jordan Rapana heads five uncapped players named in new coach David Kidwell’s 24-strong New Zealand Test squad.

Rapana, who scored 23 tries for the Raiders this season, is joined by teammate Joseph Tapine, Warriors pair David Fusitu’a and Solomone Kata, and young Penrith playmaker Te Maire Martin.

Kidwell has retained Melbourne prop Jesse Bromwich as captain, continuing the role he filled in the Test against Australia in Newcastle in May.

Former skipper Simon Mannering is also in the squad.

“Jesse did a great job leading the team earlier this year in Simon’s absence and, at this stage of his career, I think Simon is just as happy not having the weight of captaincy on him,” Kidwell said.

“Ultimately, they will both be part of a strong leadership group that set a strong culture for this team.”

The Kiwis play Australia on October 15 in Perth before they seek to defend their Four Nations title in the United Kingdom.

Kidwell said all five newcomers were being rewarded for impressive form during the NRL season.

“But we’re always looking one step ahead, whether that’s to next year’s World Cup or beyond, and we also think all these players can play a big part in keeping the Kiwis on top for many years to come.

“In picking this team, we’ve tried to achieve a balance between players who are proven at Test level and those that are the future of the Kiwis programme.”

Those unavailable for selection include Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Peta Hiku, Dean Whare, Kieran Foran, Ben Matulino, Alex Glenn and Kodi Nikorima.

Kiwis: Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, David Fusitu’a, Tohu Harris, Shaun Johnson, Jordan Kahu, Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Te Maire Martin, Manu Ma’u, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

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