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Kiwis return beckons for Kieran Foran

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/04/2017

Kieran Foran in Kiwis colours in 2015. © Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images Kieran Foran in Kiwis colours in 2015. Warriors hooker Issac Luke took his Kiwis selection for granted once, 12 months ago, and was duly burned.

Out of form and condition, the incumbent Test rake was overlooked by ex-boss Stephen Kearney for last year's Anzac Test in Newcastle, replaced in the black jumper by Manly utility Lewis Brown.

A year on, and on the same stage, he won't be making the same mistake.

"I don't want to get my hopes up there - last year I did, and it didn't work out," the 29-year-old Luke said on Friday.

Despite his modesty, Luke is more than likely to be handed the black No.9 jumper when boss David Kidwell names his squad for next week's clash in Canberra on Sunday.

Talk instead will revolve around the potential selection of Luke's club teammate Kieran Foran, tipped to make his return to the international arena.

Foran, 26, has made 20 appearances for the country of his birth but hasn't played since the Anzac Day Test two years ago, a 26-12 Kiwi victory.

The troubled five-eighth missed the entire 2016 international campaign, including the Four Nations, with well-publicised personal issues.

But having returned to club footy with the Warriors, Foran is likely to be named alongside Shaun Johnson in the halves once again.

Foran and Johnson have played just four games together in the NRL - winning two of them - but their five-year-old combination for New Zealand bodes well.

The two Aucklanders have a 12-4 record when paired together, including an impressive 10-2 Test record and the 2014 Four Nations crown.

Alongside Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the pair will likely form the Kiwis' spine against an equally outstanding Australian quartet of Darius Boyd, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and an in-doubt Johnathan Thurston.

Young guns Te Maire Martin and Kodi Nikorima are alternative halves options.

Elsewhere, the return of Tuivasa-Sheck from last year's knee injury will see reliable Broncos back Jordan Kahu move to centre or wing, with David Fusitu'a a ready-made replacement for the crocked Solomone Kata.

Up front, skipper Jesse Bromwich and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are nailed on for the front row, as well as rampaging Dally M winner Jason Taumalolo at lock.

The absence of Tohu Harris in the second row will likely be compensated by the return of stalwart Simon Mannering, who missed the Four Nations with injury.

In-form Storm back-rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona is also in line for a Test debut.

POSSIBLE KIWIS: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jordan Kahu, David Fusitu'a, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jordan Rapana, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich (c), Issac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Kevin Proctor, Simon Mannering, Jason Taumalolo. RESERVES: Kodi Nikorima, Adam Blair, Martin Taupau, Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

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