Three more players have been added to New Zealand’s train-on squad for rugby league’s Four Nations tournament.
North Queensland second rower Jason Taumalolo is the latest addition to the Kiwis’ train-on squad for the upcoming Four Nations rugby league tournament.
Three players were added to the squad on Tuesday, after the Cowboys and Manly Sea Eagles were eliminated from the NRL playoffs.
Taumalolo and Manly pair Peta Hiku and Kieran Foran bring the wider group to 28, with several more candidates playing in the NRL semi-finals.
Hiku played at fullback in the trans-Tasman Test loss to Australia in May and Foran has established himself as a virtually automatic selection in any Kiwis line-up.
But Taumalolo, a former Junior Kiwi, has yet to take the field for the senior side.
He was a non-playing member of the 2012 trans-Tasman Test squad and represented Tonga at last year’s Rugby League World Cup.
He was poised to make his Kiwis debut in May, but was injured on the eve of the squad assembling in Sydney.
Coach Stephen Kearney said Taumololo had been on the selectors’ radar for some time.
“It’s not like he’s suddenly dropped out of the sky,” he said.
“Over the past two months, Jason’s form has been really impressive and, again, he was probably the best forward out on the field last week against the Sydney Roosters.”
The Four Nations tournament, also featuring England and Samoa, starts with the Kiws playing Australia on October 25 in Brisbane and finishes with the final in Wellington on November 15.
Kiwis squad: Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Fa’amanu Brown, Sosaia Feki, Kieran Foran, David Fusitu’a, Alex Glenn, Tohu Harris, Siliva Havili, Peta Hiku, Josh Hoffman, Shaun Johnson, Ngani Laumape, Thomas Leuluai, Simon Mannering, Suaia Matagi, Ben Matulino, Matt McIlwrick, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Proctor, Sauaso Sue, Brad Takairangi, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Bodene Thompson, Manu Vatuvei.