St George Illawarra veteran Jason Nightingale will start for New Zealand in Friday night’s rugby league Test against Australia after Dallin Watene-Zelezniak took the early guilty plea to a dangerous throw.
The 19-year-old Penrith winger was charged by the NRL match review committee with the grade-one dangerous throw on Cronulla’s Wade Graham from Sunday’s NRL match that carries a one-match suspension.
On Tuesday morning, a Panthers statement confirmed Watene-Zelezniak will accept the ban, ruling him out of the Test in Brisbane.
The decision denies the Penrith winger a Test debut for a second time in six months.
Watene-Zelezniak was set for an international debut in last year’s Four Nations series opener against Australia but fractured a foot in a freak accident on a Gold Coast beach and missed the whole series.
“We’re all gutted for Dallin and I know he’s very disappointed too,” said NZ coach Stephen Kearney.
“He’s a wonderful kid, who was excited to be back in camp and champing at the bit to finally play for his country.
“But we took a look at the incident on video and there was little likelihood that we could get it scaled down if we’d fought it.”