The Kiwi team to take part in this year's Rugby League World Cup has been named, amid the controversial late withdrawal of North Queensland star Jason Taumalolo who has rejected the Kiwis in favour of his native Tonga.
Kiwis coach David Kidwell used the release of the squad in front of media to address the issue and speak about the new culture he wants to promote within the team.
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Source: 1 NEWS
"It's Jason's decision and we respect that decision, but we have to focus on the guys who are going to wear the jersey, I haven't spoken to Jason yet.
"That's the most disappointing thing, a conversation between myself and him would have been the right thing to do. As far as we were concerned Jason was part of our team and to find out two days before naming the team is disappointing but that's his decision," Kidwell said.
Looking to put the issue aside and focusing on the squad they named was the main theme of the squad naming.
"We have made some strong decisions and we will have 100 per cent commitment from the players we have selected," the coach said emphatically.
Selector Tawera Nikau also fronted media and shut them down when they continued to press about Taumalolo's decision.
"If you want to find out about Jason, maybe you should ask Jason and the Tongan team, our focus is on the 24 men we have in this team," Nikau said.
The full Kiwis squad named to take part in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup is as follows:
Kenneath Bromwich, Addin Fonua-Blake, Peta Hiku, Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Danny Levi, Isaac Liu, Simon Mannering, Te Maire Martin, Jason Nightingale, Kodi Nikorima, Russell Packer, Jordan Rapana, Brad Takairangi, Joseph Tapine, Martin Taupau, Elijah Taylor, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dean Whare