Kiwi teammates left gutted for suspended Panther
PENRITH'S Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been dealt a cruel representative blow for the second time in six months with suspension costing him a debut New Zealand Test jumper.
After injuring his foot in the lead-up to last October's Four Nations upset over Australia, the 19-year-old from Hamilton was hit with a grade-one dangerous throw charge on Sharks forward Wade Graham at the weekend.
"We're all gutted for Dallin and I know he's very disappointed too," said Kearney, adding after going over video of the incident there was very little scope to try and have the charge downgraded.
"He's a wonderful kid who was excited to be back in camp and champing at the bit to finally play for his country."
While it was tough news for Watene-Zelezniak, it was a bonus for veteran winger Jason Nightingale, who will play his 25th Test for the New Zealanders.
He has scored 16 tries for his country and was the leading try-scorer with five in its four wins in the Four Nations series last year.
New Zealand has not beaten Australia in this early-season Test since 1998 but has named a formidable side capable of upsetting the Kangaroos again, given they will blood four debutants.