Weller focus as Huddersfield Giants' boys take on target
HUDDERSFIELD’S six England tourists could come up against one of the Giants’ potential top targets for 2011 next Saturday.
Kevin Brown, Eorl Crabtree, Leroy Cudjoe, Darrell Griffin, Shaun Lunt and Luke Robinson are all expected to be included in England’s Gillette Four Nations warm-up game against New Zealand Maoris in Auckland.
And lining up for the hosts will be Crusaders’ back-row forward Weller Hauraki, who is believed to have expressed a strong interest in joining Giants.
Leeds Rhinos have also been linked with a move for the powerful forward, although the fact he still has a year remaining on his current Crusaders contract could prove a stumbling block.
Hauraki has been in outstanding form for the Wrexham-based club all season and will be a part of a very strong-looking Maori side.
As well as coming up against the former Parramatta Eels star, England will face dual Australian international Timana Tahu and three past and present Super League players.
Tahu, who recently returned from a spell in rugby union, originally turned down New Zealand in order to make his Test debut for Australia but now wants to play for the Maori, who are coached by former Leeds and New Zealand centre Richie Blackmore.
He will line up in the threequarters alongside former Leeds centre Clinton Toopi, who won the last of his 22 caps for the Kiwis in 2007 and this year revived his NRL career with the Gold Coast Titans.
New Zealand Maori Rugby League chairman Howie Tamati has also included a trio of current Super League players in Hauraki, Castleford stand-off Rangi Chase and Salford scrum half Jeremy Smith, who will join Wakefield in 2011.
The team also includes Kiwi international hooker Aaron Heremaia, who made his Test debut against Australia this year, and full-back Kevin Locke, who was in New Zealand’s Four Nations squad last year but did not play a game.
England’s game against the Maori at Mount Smart Stadium is a curtain-raiser to a first-ever Test match between New Zealand and Samoa, who have named eight current Super League players in their squad, including Giants Players’ Player of the Year David Faiumu (pictured).
As well as Faiumu, they are St Helens duo Tony Puletua and Francis Meli, Leeds second rower Ali Lauitiiti, Warrington loose forward David Solomona, Wigan pair George Carmont and Harrison Hansen and Crusaders back-row forward Frank Winterstein.
New Zealand Maori (to face England):@ K Locke (NZ Warriors); S Earl (Penrith), T Tahu (Parramatta), C Toopi (Gold Coast), AJ Taumata (North Queensland); R Chase (Castleford), J Smith (Salford); W Heta (Otahuhu), A Heremaia (NZ Warriors), W Hauraki (Crusaders), J Horo (Parramatta), B Thompson (Gold Coast), K Proctor (Melbourne). Subs: J Tamou (North Queensland), S McKendry (Penrith), R Packer (NZ Warriors), plus one player to be added from the Kiwis.