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Locke gets fullback nod for Kiwis

Despite being cleared to play, Josh Hoffman has lost out to rival Kevin Locke in the battle to start at fullback for the Kiwis' Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Scotland.
Locke gets fullback nod for Kiwis
by AAP

LEEDS, Nov 13 AAP - Despite being cleared to play, Josh Hoffman has lost out to rival Kevin Locke in the battle to start at fullback for the Kiwis' Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Scotland.

The Brisbane Bronco was forced off with a shoulder injury in the Kiwis' 52-10 win against Papua New Guinea, but was deemed fit enough to be considered for selection by coach Stephen Kearney.

"I think Kevin is the best man for the job this week," Kearney said after giving the Warriors' fullback the start at Headingley on Friday (Saturday AEDT).

Hoffman, who also faces a challenge for the fullback role at his club after the arrival of Ben Barba, was left out of Kearney's 19-strong squad.

Hulking winger Manu Vatuvei has been included but will undergo a fitness test on a troublesome knee injury at the captain's run the day before the match.

Jason Nightingale is in the squad as cover but he is expected to be one of the two players to drop out of the match day squad if Vatuvei is fit.

The other player to drop out will probably come from the front row, with Kearney naming all five of his props in the squad.

One of Ben Matulino, Jesse Bromwich, Sam Moa, Sam Kasiano and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are likely to be omitted.

Simon Mannering returns to the squad to take over the captaincy after Kieran Foran led the side against the Kumuls and Frank Pritchard is also back after resting niggles.

Sonny Bill Williams, who had been battling a sore shoulder and the flu, is included after scoring three tries in last week's final Group B match.

New Zealand: Kevin Locke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Dean Whare, Bryson Goodwin, Manu Vatuvei, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank Pritchard, Sonny Bill Williams, Simon Mannering (capt), Sam Kasiano, Ben Matulino, Sam Moa, Jason Nightingale, Frank-Paul Nu'uausala, Elijah Taylor (two to be omitted).


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