Star second-rower Sonny Bill Williams hasn’t been named in the Kiwis team for their World Cup warm-up match against the Cook Islands in Doncaster.
Coach Stephen Kearney has named an 18-man squad for the international on Sunday, which doesn’t carry Test status, choosing to leave out his six players who were involved in the recent NRL grand final.
That includes Manly Sea Eagles five-eighth Kieran Foran and five players from the champion Sydney Roosters side – wing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and forwards Williams, Sam Moa, Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
It means Williams will probably make his international rugby league return when they play the opening match of their World Cup title defence against Samoa in Warrington on October 27.
The 28-year-old dual international hasn’t played for the Kiwis since 2008 and was a controversial late inclusion in the touring party in place of Melbourne Storm second-rower Tohu Harris after making himself available following the official squad announcement.
The team to face the Cook Islands will be captained by Simon Mannering, one of seven Warriors players in the squad, including halves Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai.
Mannering and Leuluai are the most experienced members of the squad with 30 Tests each.
Josh Hoffman, Jason Nightingale, Krisnan Inu, Dean Whare, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Simon Mannering (capt), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Greg Eastwood, Ben Matulino, Alex Glenn, Kevin Locke, Bryson Goodwin