22 Oct 2008

Manu set to start in Kiwis rugby league world cup opener

5:49 pm on 22 October 2008

Melbourne Storm forward Sika Manu has won a starting spot in the New Zealand side for Sunday's Rugby League World Cup match against Australia in Sydney.

After making his Test debut off the bench against Tonga last Saturday, he's been elevated to the run-on side to partner Simon Mannering in the second row.

Coach Stephen Kearney has reshuffled several positions from the 56-8 win over Tonga, with captain and prop Nathan Cayless, winger Manu Vatuvei and fullback Lance Hohaia all passed fit to play after being rested at the weekend as a precaution.

Melbourne Prop Adam Blair retains his starting spot ahead of Sam Rapira who is on the bench, while Sam Perrett edged out Parramatta's Krisnan Inu for a spot on the wing.

Experienced hooker Dene Halatau edges out South Sydney's Issac Luke for a spot on the bench behind starting hooker Nathan Fien, while Rapira, Greg Eastwood and Setaimata Sa make up the interchange bench.

Those to miss the squad altogether included Inu, Luke and Kiwis regular David Fa'alogo.

The full team is: Nathan Cayless, Lance Hohaia, Sam Perrett, Steve Matai, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Benji Marshall, Thomas Leuluai, Nathan Fien, Adam Blair, Simon Mannering, Sika Manu, Jeremy Smith.

Interchange: Dene Halatau, Greg Eastwood, Setaimata Sa, Sam Rapira.