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4 days ago
Uncapped centre Shontayne Hape is looking to use his inclusion in the one-off Anzac rugby league match this week to propel himself into firm reckoning for a Kiwi test jumper.
The fixture against Cumbria at Workington, in north-west England, on Thursday morning (NZT), is a chance for players in the New Zealand and Australian tour squads who have sat out the Tri-Nations tests to get a run.
Hape was ruled out of contention for the tournament opener against Australia in Auckland on October 16, as he was involved in the Super League grand final on the same weekend.
He then got called up with three of Bradford's other New Zealanders into the Kiwi squad to tour England and France, but missed selection for the test against the Kangaroos in London on Saturday night.
"All the guys who didn't play are looking for a bit of a hit-out and to push for test spots in the games against Great Britain," he said yesterday.
"I'm hoping I can get my first test match under my belt on this tour."
Hape said the Australians were as eager as the New Zealanders to turn out for the Anzac side and he saw no problems with the players gelling immediately.
"For the guys in the National Rugby League, it will be like normal," he said.
"I was talking on Saturday to a few of the Aussie guys, like Brett Kimmorley, Scott Hill, Ben Kennedy, and they're all really keen on playing."
Hape, 23, joined Bradford last year after being unable to establish himself at the New Zealand Warriors, where his final season was cut short early by a serious knee injury.
Since his arrival in the north of England, he has formed a formidable partnership with Kiwi winger Lesley Vainikolo.
Throughout this season, the pair between them scored a staggering 67 tries down Bradford's left flank, with Vainikolo getting a Super League record of 39.
"This year couldn't have gone much better for me," Hape said.
"It's great to get out there and play next to Lesley. We just seem to have a good partnership going."
Hape's own tally of 28 tries was achieved despite being sidelined for six weeks with a broken arm.
He said Bradford's left-hand side was the more dominant on attack, and it was the players that he and Vainikolo had around him, including Kiwis Logan Swann and Robbie Paul, who had a key role.
"Guys like Logan, Iestyn Harris and Robbie should take a lot of the credit.
"They put us into holes and we just finish off."
Apart from supplying four players to the Kiwi tour party, Bradford also have five in the Great Britain squad. The club coach, Brian Noble, is also the Great Britain coach.
Hape therefore has a good insight into how New Zealand might fare in the two Tri-Nations tests against the British, who he said were seriously rating their chances of winning the tournament.
"I think Great Britain and us will go right down to the wire," he said.
"I know the Great Britain boys and they're really looking forward to the challenge. They're going out there with the aim of winning this competition."