Broncos outcast Josh Hoffman has been brought into the Kiwi squad for the injured Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for the Four Nations tournament.
Brisbane Broncos outcast Josh Hoffman will be given the chance to audition for his NRL future during New Zealand’s Four Nations campaign, after Dallin Watene-Zelezniak withdrew from the tournament with a foot injury.
Hoffman was drafted into Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney’s 24-man squad for the four-week tournament after Watene-Zelezniak broke his foot at training.
Broncos veteran Sam Thaiday confirmed on Wednesday that Wayne Bennett was in the midst of some spring cleaning at the Queensland flagship upon his return to Red Hill.
And Hoffman is said to squarely in the crosshairs due to the club’s surplus of fullbacks.
The 26-year-old has been linked to a number of suitors including Canberra, Canterbury and Parramatta and has the talent to continue his career in the NRL.
With Darius Boyd set to fill the custodian role at the Broncos under his long term mentor Bennett next season, Hoffman and Ben Barba have been linked to moves elsewhere, alongside prop Martin Kennedy.
Kearney, who is on Bennett’s support staff, spoke of Hoffman’s enthusiasm on entering the Kiwi camp after being initially overlooked.
But he refused to speculate on the utility’s future.
“I know Josh was certainly very disappointed to miss the squad initially but very excited to be a part of it now,” Kearney told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s pretty difficult (to talk about his future).
“He is loved down there by the boys (at Brisbane).
“At the moment it is speculation and I’m not going to make a comment on it.”
St George Illawarra utility Gerard Beale will come onto the right wing for the Kiwis for Watene-Zelezniak for the tournament opener against world champions Australia at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
But Hoffman is sure to play a role for New Zealand moving forward.
Kearney said he felt for 18-year-old Watene-Zelezniak.
“He had a bit of a mishap on the beach on Monday where he felt he rolled his ankle,” Kearney said.
“We got that scanned and he has a small fracture there.
“Obviously, he’s feeling fairly disappointed.
“He has bounced back from it fairly well but you can tell he’s disappointed not to be playing this weekend.”
England play Samoa in the other game in Saturday’s double header.