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Isaako committed to Kiwis after Samoa stint

After making the switch to represent Toa Samoa in a one-off game earlier this season, Brisbane Broncos flyer Jamayne Isaako said it was an easy decision to declare allegiance to New Zealand for the end-of-year Tests against Australia and Great Britain.

Having already earned two caps for the Kiwis in 2018, Isaako wasn't picked for the June Test against Tonga and opted instead to play for Samoa.

The move was to honour his Samoa-born father Taai who has terminal cancer.

While thankful for his time with the island nation Isaako said his heart has and always will be with New Zealand, and he jumped at the opportunity when Kiwis coach Michael Maguire came calling at the end of the NRL season.     

"Not getting selected by the Kiwis mid-year sort of gave me that opportunity to give back to Samoa and I saw it as a great opportunity to represent my dad, after seeing what he went through this year with the cancer," Isaako said ahead of facing Great Britain on Saturday.

"[But] turning down a Kiwi jersey to me would be something I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for later on down the track.

Isaako just keeps on scoring for the Kiwis

"To be able to be selected for New Zealand – it being my birth country and where I learned my trade and played most of my footy – I have always dreamed of being an All Black or Kiwi.

"Being able to come back and represent this jersey means a great deal to me and my family as well.

"I have represented New Zealand in lower grades coming up through the system.

"I'm not saying that I will never play for Samoa again. Whether that happens or not I'm not sure, but I am always open to giving back to Samoa."

Kiwis say they must overcome the loss of experienced big men

Isaako will again line up on the right wing outside Roosters centre Joseph Manu at Eden Park, with the 23-year-old admitting Manu's flamboyant style had taken some time to get used to.

"Playing outside Joey, he's got a wee bit of a goose step that's kind of hard to keep up with and a flashy little flick pass that he's got going on," Isaakosaid.

"Me and Joey are developing well on the right edge and I am enjoying my time playing outside him.

"Joey is a premiership-winning centre and it's been good learning off him."

The pair will be hoping to benefit from the inclusion of five-eighth Kieran Foran against the Lions, with the Bulldogs playmaker likely to play predominantly down the right side and captain Benji Marshall to be stationed on the left.

Marshall said despite not playing with Foran since 2012 they have picked up where they left off as a combination.   

"I am really enjoying what our combination has been able to achieve so far at training and looking forward to being able to play with him," Marshall said.

"What I like about Kieran is he is so determined on every play and he does all the little things like the kick chase, [and is a] strong defender.

"We compliment the way each other plays."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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