You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

He won't experience the World Cup Nines as he recovers from minor knee surgery but Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is desperate to play Test footy for the Kiwis later in October.

The incumbent New Zealand captain underwent an arthroscope in early September having suffered a left lateral meniscus tear to finish the season with the Bulldogs.

Although neither the injury or operation was serious, the timing is poor with New Zealand to contest the trans-Tasman Test against Australia in Wollongong on October 25.

They then clash with Great Britain twice (November 2 and 9) to close out their end-of-season Test campaign.

Watene-Zelezniak doesn't take representing the Kiwis for granted and is racing the clock to add to his 12 caps.

"I'm doing everything that I can to get it right and we'll see how it goes," Watene-Zelezniak told NRL.com at a photoshoot for Cotton On's first range of NRL supporter gear.

"It's feeling good at the moment. I'll see what the surgeon says and take the advice off the club and go from there. Anytime I can push for a black-and-white jersey, I'll be doing that."

New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Watene-Zelezniak has skippered New Zealand five times so far but the 24-year-old still finds it hard to believe he's even representing the Kiwis.

"It's surreal, captaining my country. I can't put into words how much it means, not only to me but my family as well," he said.

"As I said when I got named last year, I never thought I'd get an opportunity [to play for New Zealand]. Maybe when I was like 30, I'd get one game because I'm about to retire.

"To be doing it now and continuing to do it, I still pinch myself every day."

While Watene-Zelezniak excelled in his favoured position of fullback once he moved to Canterbury from Penrith mid-season, he has no qualms about switching to the wing so Roger Tuivasa-Sheck can wear the Kiwis No.1.

"One thing I've learned as captain is you just want to win. You've got someone like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck there, so I'd play anywhere just to play in the same team as him," Watene-Zelezniak said.

"As a captain, you do everything you can to make sure the best team is fielded. Our best team has Roger at fullback. I'll be happy to play wherever."

Despite a fit Tuivasa-Sheck holding a mortgage on the custodian's role, Watene-Zelezniak expects impressive Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to slot into the New Zealand outfit somewhere.

"He's been playing unbelievable. That's a testament to him," Watene-Zelezniak said.

"We need every Kiwi pushing for jerseys and doing their best because it makes everyone else work harder. When there's competition for a spot, it brings out the best in you."

Bulldog Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Rabbitoh Damien Cook.
Bulldog Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Rabbitoh Damien Cook.

Along with Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook, Watene-Zelezniak recently modelled Cotton On's new on-trend and affordable NRL merchandise.

He gave the "really comfy" clothing a strong endorsement but didn't say the same about his work in front of the camera.

"Way out of my comfort zone," he laughed. "I don't think this is me after football.

"But I'm not saying no if there's anyone out there that needs someone to model stuff. I'd be keen after footy because it'd be pretty relaxed. But it's not really my thing."

Cook joked: "There's a few better sorts in the NRL that probably could have done [the modelling] but I'll take it!"

Cotton On's selection of tees, tanks, crews and tights launch with Storm, Rabbitohs, Eels, Broncos, Cowboys and Bulldogs gear on September 30.

The full range of teams will be available from March 2020.