Foran to replace Matai

Manly’s Kieran Foran is set to become the third NYC player to make his Kiwi Test debut in the last month when he lines up in the centres against England in Saturday’s vital Gillette Four Nations clash at Huddersfield’s Galpharm Stadium.

With Steve Matai ruled out with an eye injury, coach Stephen Kearney today named Matai’s 19-year-old club-mate Foran – the youngest player in the Kiwis’ Four Nations squad – as his replacement.

Foran, a 2007 Junior Kiwi, made his NRL debut this year, scoring six tries in his nine appearances. Still eligible for the NYC next season, he has already scored 20 tries in 35 games for Manly’s under-20 side in the last two seasons.

“We had some options in terms of a replacement for Steve (Matai) but when we looked at it, Kieran is the player we believe best suits our needs for this game,” said Kearney.

“He’s a confident young player who has been working really hard ever since we came into camp and he certainly deserves this chance.

“We’ve been thrilled with the way our new players have handled themselves when given their chance to play for the Kiwis over the last few weeks and we have great confidence in Kieran doing the same. He’ll certainly bring a lot of energy and ability into the side for Saturday night’s game.”

Foran’s inclusion is the only change to the starting line-up that beat France 62-12 in Toulouse last Saturday. There’s also a change on the interchange bench, with Melbourne prop Jeff Lima returning from a calf injury to replace utility Greg Eastwood, who has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a broken hand.

Foran will become Kiwi No 757 and is the sixth of the eight newcomers in this squad to make their Test debuts in the last month. Bryson Goodwin (Bulldogs), Junior Sa’u (Newcastle), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Manly) were given their first Test outings against Tonga in Rotorua on October 14 while Warriors second rower Ben Matulino began his international career against France last week. Waerea-Hargreaves and Matulino were the first two NYC players to make their Kiwi Test debuts and now Foran emulates their achievements. Kevin Locke and Eddy Pettybourne are now the only two newcomers yet to plat a Test although Pettybourne is 19th man this week.

New Zealand Kiwis:
Hohaia, Perrett, Foran, Sa'u, Goodwin, Marshall, Fien, Nuuausala, Leuluai, Moimoi, Soliola, Pritchard, Blair; Reserves: Luke, Lima, Matulino, Warea-Hargraves, Nightingale, Pettybourne (One to be omitted)