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3 days ago
An Australia-wide talent search for future Kiwis rugby league internationals has produced encouraging results with at least a dozen potential players unearthed.
The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) appealed for players either born in New Zealand or with a bona fide Kiwi connection to contact them in April after advertising in league magazines here.
"We didn't get a Timana Tahu or a Willie Mason suddenly appear out of first grade to be in contention for the test team immediately but we didn't expect that," Kiwis business manager Pat Carthy said.
"The main objective is to build a base for the future and to ensure another Timana Tahu doesn't slip through the net."
National Rugby League (NRL) stars Tahu and Mason were eligible to play for the Kiwis despite having spent most of their lives in Australia. They both opted to play for the Kangaroos last year.
Carthy said the majority of interest came from the targeted 16-23 years-old age group.
"Most of them play (lower-tier) Jersey Flegg and SG Ball competitions in NSW and there are a couple from Queensland."
Carthy and new Kiwis coach Daniel Anderson will work on a plan to monitor the applicants and keep them in the frame for future New Zealand representation.
"Daniel has extensive scouting network in place with players already there, but the younger ones haven't been identified. Now we'll monitor them."
Some eligible players were discarded because they fell outside the preferred age.
"There were some older players in the lower divisions who thought perhaps there was a tour at the end of the year," Carthy said.