The New Zealand Rugby League have announced a monstrous 38-man wider squad ahead of the 2022 season as they prepare for a busy calendar of rugby league.
On the back of an extended period without international rugby league, the Kiwis are preparing for a World Cup, as well as lead-in Tests both during the NRL season, and after it, during 2022.
There is reportedly a Test against a Pacific Islands nation, as well as a Trans-Tasman battle in the offering ahead o the World Cup, which had been postponed from 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement suggested they have announced the squad to prepare the players who are potentially in line for selection in coach Michael Maguire's squad for the major Tests and event.
There are plenty of familiar faces listed, including James Fisher-Harris, Isaiah Papali'i, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joseph Manu, while fresh additions include the likes of Jordan Riki, Erin Clark and Morgan Harper, alongside boom Manly Sea Eagles youngster Josh Schuster.
Coach Maguire said that the squad was by no means the final list of players who would be considered, but that he wanted all the players to prepare for a big 2022.
“We have listed this wider squad, so players are aware that the upcoming preseason and following season creates an enormous opportunity for them and this Kiwis team," Maguire said.
“International football has been a challenge,” Maguire adds. “But the player’s enthusiasm to represent their country is as strong as ever; there’s no question as to how much this jersey means to them, and their eagerness to play has never wavered. The senior players set a strong foundation and have their eyes focused on the 2022 World Cup.”
“With the football that our younger players have played, we have created a list of players that, with a little more experience, could be the future of this team.
“I am sure we will unearth some new Kiwi talent in the next 12 months, and we may even uncover more current names not listed. Nevertheless, this depth is encouraging.
“This year, we have watched many New Zealand players have their best seasons yet. Now with that experience, coupled with the new generation of talent coming through – it is an exciting time to be a Kiwi.”
Full New Zealand wider squad
Dylan Brown (Parramatta Eels)
Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles)
Chanel Harris-Tavita (New Zealand Warriors)
Jahrome Hughes (Melbourne Storm)
Shaun Johnson (Cronulla Sharks)
Kodi Nikorima (New Zealand Warriors)
Josh Aloiai (Manly Sea Eagles)
Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)
Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
James Fisher-Harris (Penrith Panthers)
Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla Sharks)
Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters)
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters)
Kenny Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
Corey Harawira-Naera (Canberra Raiders)
Briton Nikora (Cronulla Sharks)
Marata Niukore (Parramatta Eels)
Isaiah Papali'i (Parramatta Eels)
Kevin Proctor (Gold Coast Titans)
Jordan Riki (Brisbane Broncos)
Josh Schuster (Manly Sea Eagles)