Kasiano commits to Kiwis
THE tug-of-war for the services of giant Bulldogs front-rower Sam Kasiano is over with the 22-year-old to be named today in the New Zealand side to take on the Kangaroos in Townsville on October 13.
Kasiano has played for the Junior Kiwis and signed a letter of intent to represent New Zealand at senior level, however his commitment to the cause appeared to waver when he was overlooked for May's Anzac Test match.
Speculation had been rife that he would join Cowboys prop James Tamou and raiders back-rower Josh Papali'i and turn his back on a Kiwi jersey in order to pursue more lucrative State-of-Origin ambitions.
But NZRL general manager high performance Tony Kemp yesterday said he had told Kasiano he would named in the New Zealand side today, the big Bulldog confirming he would be happy to be part of the squad.
"The selectors are very happy that Sam wants to be in the Kiwi team," Kemp said. "It's been a fairly big week for Sam with making the grand final and then on the verge of his international debut. So it's another feather in his cap and he should be proud of himself."
Other players likely to be selected in the New Zealand side from the grand final include Krisnan Inu, Frank Pritchard and Sam Perrett from the beaten Bulldogs side, and Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor from the premiership-winning Storm.
One major omission will almost certainly be back rower and long-time vice-captain Adam Blair who is set to play the price for a lacklustre season after joining Wests Tigers from Melbourne.
His place is likely to go to recalled forward Greg Eastwood, who produced some stunning form in the Bulldogs' run to the grand final.
Storm back-rower Ryan Hoffman could be a surprise selection today in the Kangaroos side another outstanding effort in the grand final.
Hoffman, one of the victims of Melbourne's salary cap issues in 2010, returned to the club this season after a stint with Wigan in the Super League, saying "I thought this club would give me the best opportunity to play in a grand final".
He has been in career best form this season and was considered unlucky to miss out on New South Wales State-of-Origin selection.
Other players likely to come under consideration for the Kangaroos include Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds who could fill a utility role, Cameron Smith and Josh Morris.
The interesting selections will be halfback and fullback. While Storm playmaker Cooper Cronk was brilliant in the grand final, deservedly winning the Clive Churchill medal for best afield, incumbent Kangaroos No.7 Johnathan Thurston has been part of the train-on squad and will be hard to dislodge.
Manly custodian Brett Stewart has also been part of the train-on squad and may get the fullback jersey ahead of Bulldogs Dally M winner Ben Barba and Storm star Billy Slater who may opt to rest his injured knee.