Wests Tigers stars selected for Kiwis

Wests Tigers stars Adam Blair and Tim Simona have been selected in the 17-man New Zealand train-on squad to prepare for the Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales.


It is due reward for Blair who was the only Wests Tiger to feature in every game of the 2013 NRL season.


Exciting youngster Tim Simona will be delighted to cap his meteoric rise with the post-season tournament after thrilling the NRL on so many occasions in 2013.


The squad was chosen from the eight clubs that wont feature in the NRL play-offs this year, being the Gold Coast Titans, Penrith Panthers, Vodafone Warriors, Brisbane Broncos, Canberra Raiders, St George Illawarra Dragons, Wests Tigers and the Parramatta Eels.


The national selectors - Richie Barnett, Ivan Cleary, Stephen Kearney and Tawera Nikau - along with the convenor of selectors Tony Iro, will add to the squad in the coming weeks as teams are eliminated from the NRL finals.


The former Kiwis captain Benji Marshall was not considered for selection, with Iro confirming that Marshall informed the selectors that his impending move to rugby union would rule him out of the tournament.


Were naturally disappointed to not have Benji available for World Cup selection, said Iro, but we understand the circumstances and wish him well. Hell always be a Kiwi brother and he has done wonders not only for rugby league in New Zealand, but the game in general.


Benji stood proud as a New Zealander at a time when there was plenty of interest in convincing him to commit elsewhere.


"His dedication to his country set an example to those coming through. He was a key part of the Kiwis team that won New Zealands first ever Rugby League World Cup in 2008 and he followed that up with a starring role, as captain, in our 2010 Four Nations win.


"Hell be missed, but we believe we have players in the halves that are ready to deliver in this World Cup tournament.


Benji Marshall (Kiwi #717) debuted for the Kiwis in the 2005 ANZAC Test and has played 27 Tests, including 19 as captain.


2013 KIWIS TRAIN-ON SQUAD (at September 11):


Brisbane Broncos: Alex Glenn, Josh Hoffman

St George Illawarra Dragons: Bronson Harrison, Jason Nightingale

Penrith Panthers: Lewis Brown, Sam McKendry, Dean Whare

Vodafone Warriors: Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Kevin Locke, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Sam Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei

Wests Tigers: Adam Blair, Tim Simona


Unavailable: St George Illawarra Dragons: Gerard Beale; Wests Tigers: Benji Marshall


A Kiwis squad of 24 for the Rugby League World Cup will be named on October 8. The squad has a warm-up game against the Cook Islands in Doncaster on October 20, before they open their World Cup defence on October 27 in Warrington against Samoa. The tournament finishes at Manchesters Old Trafford on November 30.


2013 KIWIS MATCH SCHEDULE (UK dates)

October 20 vs Cook Islands (Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster)

October 27 vs Samoa (Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington)

November 1 vs France (Parc des Sports, Avignon)

November 8 vs Papua New Guinea (Headingley Carnegie, Leeds)

November 15-17 Quarter-finals

November 23 Semi-finals (Double-header at Wembley Stadium, London)

November 30 Final (Old Trafford, Manchester)