I think Kidwell will be lucky to get in the 17 man squad and may only start in the PNG game barring injury for the others. As said, he's in their for his experience and will be used at trainings, dressing rooms etc to keep the guys focused and pumped up.
Let's face it, what other options do the selectors have apart from Leuluai at halfback?
There's Fien, the recently re-converted 7 who's played a handful of games in the position this year, and done reasonably well.
But really, who else is there in terms of specialists? Jeremy Smith!?
Thomas may not set the world on fire every single match but he has played some decent matches for the Kiwis. Unfortunately being involved in that dismal UK tour hasn't done his rep a lot of good on the international scene.
That All Golds game he played in was at standoff too by the way. He went well.
Dragons winger Jason Nightingale is immersing himself in the New Zealand Maori team after missing out on the Kiwis 24-man Rugby League World Cup squad. Nightingale was one of the surprise omissions after an impressive National Rugby League season in which he scored 13 tries. The 22-year-old will start for the New Zealand Maori in Sunday's match against the All Golds in New Plymouth and spent last night in a marae in Ngaruawahia. Nightingale says it has been great to experience some Maori culture as it is something he gets little of in Australia. He can his non-selection in the Kiwis squad as Warriors powerhouse Manu Vatuvei and Roosters flyer Sam Perrett have been in great form. Nightingale is aware he may get called-up into the squad if either Brent Webb or Steve Matai fail to prove their fitness. He says he just has to keep his hopes up and use this Sunday's match between the New Zealand Maori and All Golds as a trial. Kiwis World Cup squad Nathan Cayless (Parramatta, captain), Adam Blair (Melbourne), Greg Eastwood (Brisbane), David Fa'alogo (South Sydney), Nathan Fien (New Zealand Warriors), Dene Halatau (Wests Tigers), Lance Hohaia (NZ Warriors), Krisnan Inu (Parramatta), David Kidwell (South Sydney), Thomas Leuluai (Wigan), Jeff Lima (Melbourne), Issac Luke (South Sydney), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Sika Manu (Melbourne), Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), Steve Matai (Manly), Sam Perrett (Sydney Roosters), Sam Rapira (NZ Warriors), Jerome Ropati (NZ Warriors), Setaimata Sa (Sydney Roosters), Jeremy Smith(Melbourne), Iosia Soliola (Sydney Roosters), Manu Vatuvei (NZ Warriors), Brent Webb (Leeds).
The Kiwis are banking on the use of specialist players in the key positions of hooker, halfback, five-eighth and fullback to lift them against Australia in the World Cup tournament. The All Golds squad ran in Auckland yesterday with former Kiwis great Stacey Jones adding direction to a team that will include the man who will carry much of that weight - Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall. Marshall and others, including Kiwis captain Nathan Cayless, haven't played since the last round of the NRL on September 8. So with the World Cup opener against Australia not until October 26, the All Golds will run against a Maori selection this weekend, and then the full Kiwis warm-up against Tonga will be their only chance to hone match fitness. The Tigers five-eighth has missed many tests through recurring injuries but yesterday declared himself 100 per cent fit and raring to go. "The last four weeks of training have been the hardest training I've done. "We've had three sessions a week out at Parramatta Stadium; I've done a lot of fitness work and tackling and I feel really confident." Thomas Leuluai will play halfback inside Marshall, but the other Super League selection, Brent Webb, remains in doubt for the fullback spot he would have taken automatically. Webb's back injury may require long rest, and he is said to be in such discomfort that he cannot face the 24-hour flight to Auckland. The alternatives are Lance Hohaia, who did a tremendous job standing in for Wade McKinnon at the Warriors; Parramatta's Krisnan Inu, who has played tests there before; or Sam Perrett from the Roosters, who was tour fullback in England and did a good job. Inu has been lacking top form and Hohaia will be more valuable from the bench, so Perrett seems the likely pick if Webb is eliminated. If Webb goes, it will open a hole for the Dragons wing/fullback Jason Nightingale to return should he play well for the Maori, after he missed early Kiwis selection. The hooking options are the Souths' Isaac Luke, the Warriors' Nathan Fien or the Tigers' Dene Halatau, all with test experience. "We're now in the position where we don't have to play players out of position," Kiwis convener of selectors Howie Tamati said yesterday. "There are players who have specialist skills and/or have the ability to play well in a number of positions." All bar Webb and Manly centre Steve Matai have passed fitness assessment. Matai will see a specialist today about whether his shoulder needs reconstruction surgery immediately or whether minor surgery post-Cup will fix bone chips. Two-test Kiwi Chase Stanley, from the Dragons, has been called into the Maori squad after the withdrawal of Rooster Anthony Cherrington. The Aussie-bred, new England coach Tony Smith has, like Australia and New Zealand, drawn heavily from their grand final sides. The England World Cup squad named yesterday includes eight players from champions Leeds, seven from defeated finalists St Helens, three from Wigan and one from Warrington. Lee Smith (no relation), who was Webb's replacement at fullback for Leeds during the Super League grand final, is a bolter in a squad captained by Jamie Peacock. Numerous NRL players who missed selection for either Australia or New Zealand have been named to appear for Pacific Island or British sides, notably Roosters second rower Anthony Tupou, who played for the Kangaroos in the centenary test against the Kiwis in May and will turn out for Fiji. The 2007 Kiwi tourists Fuifui Moimoi from Parramatta and Taniela Tuiaki from Wests switch to Tonga, who also include Warrior Epalahame Lauaki, Penrith centre Michael Jennings, Parramatta lock Feleti Mateo and wings Jarryd Hayne and Tony Williams, under coach Jim Dymock. A heap of former Kiwis, including David Solomona, David Faiumu, Ali Lauitiiti, Willie Talau, Matt Utai and Tony Puletua, join Nigel Vagana in the strong Samoan squad.
It's funny how all the people who bag Leuluai haven't actually seen him play on a regular basis since he was playing for the NZ Warriors. How can you rate a player when you've only seen him up against dominant Australian teams, and only a handful of times every few years?
The reason the Storm lost so badly in the NRL grand final is now revealed - their two starting props were running on injured legs. The Kiwis lost Jeff Lima from their squad for the World Cup yesterday and his Melbourne frontrow partner Brett White withdrew from the Ireland squad, both ruled out by medics because of injuries they have played on with at the back end of the season. And Leeds fullback Brent Webb won't be travelling to join the Kiwis either. Further investigation of the back injury that kept him out of the Super League grand final last weekend has revealed he requires spinal surgery that will put him out of the game for six months. Dragons wing/fullback Jason Nightingale, who debuted in May, was called up yesterday to replace Webb. The loss of the pair takes significant firepower out of the squad. Without Lima as well as Roy Asotasi the go-forward will suffer. And what a pity Sonny Bill Williams and Frank Pritchard are missing too - those three prop forwards have been equal to any in rugby league this season and likewise Webb at fullback. The Kiwis' options at starting prop are Sam Rapira and Evarn Tuimavave from the Warriors or the Storm's Adam Blair, all three interchange men for their club. The selectors may elect to go for an older hand like South's backrowers David Fa'alogo or David Kidwell for the mistake-free cart-up required early in each half. Lima was scratched yesterday when what was supposed to be a routine arthroscope on a knee injury he had been carrying for some weeks revealed more serious damage that requires immediate surgery. He is out of action for eight weeks. Tuimavave is called into the side after being part of the squad that prepared for the Anzac test but the 25-year-old yet to make his international debut. "Lima had an arthroscope on his troublesome knee on Tuesday to clean out the joint he injured leading into the finals series," Storm high performance manager Mary Toomey said. "Unfortunately, this showed more significant damage than had been indicated on his MRI scan and he will have further surgery in approximately 10 days to repair this." "Brett has been troubled by persistent inflammation and soreness affecting the joints at the base of both big toes over the last few weeks," Toomey said. "He managed to get through games with medical and physio help, but now needs surgery." It was Leeds head physiotherapist Meirion Jones who announced the bad news on Webb's behalf. "Brent has had microdiscectomy on acute disc herniation," he said. It is hoped that the surgery will clear up Brent's current symptoms. However, the key will be a sustained period of five to six months rehabilitation to complement the surgery to get Brent back to full fitness." Options are Lance Hohaia, who filled in most of the season for the injured Wade McKinnon at the Warriors, Sam Perrett or Krisnan Inu who played fullback for New Zealand last year, or Jason Nightingale. Inu lacks form, Nightingale is a better wing, while Perrett played plenty of fullback for the Roosters and shapes as best option in number one, allowing Hohaia to make impact off the interchange. England coach Tony Smith has declared he has selected players with speed to take advantage of Australia's hard and fast tracks. Smith has just four specialist props in his 24-man squad, with eight backrowers. "I think we have a fast team with some electric players both in the forwards and the backs. Speed and mobility are two of the things that can trouble any team," the Aussie-raised Smith said. The 15 players who appeared in the grand final have been left out of the side that will play Wales this weekend in a Cup warm-up. The Australians look sure to lose backrower Michael Crocker, x-rays revealing a broken rib. His replacement is likely to be Bronco Sam Thaiday. However, there was speculation yesterday that Anthony Tupou, who had agreed to play for Tonga after missing out on the Kangaroos, was stalling in the hope of a recall to the green and gold he wore in May. The Ponsonby Rugby League Club marks its centenary with a dinner at Alexandra Park on Saturday and games and festivities at its old home ground Victoria Park on Sunday. The All Golds to play the Maori in New Plymouth on Sunday, including Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki and Logan Swann, playing in New Zealand for the last time, will hold a skills session and barbecue for the Taranaki locals at Yarrow Stadium tomorrow.