27 Oct 2011

Matulino, Leuluai return to Kiwis side

8:44 am on 27 October 2011

Warriors prop Ben Matulino and Wigan utility Thomas Leuluai are both back in the Kiwis rugby league team for Saturday morning's Four Nations opener against the Kangaroos at Warrington.

Matulino replaces club-mate Russell Packer, ruled out for this game after being handed a one-match suspension following a tackle on Australian captain Darren Lockyer in the loss to the Kangaroos in Newcastle earlier this month.

Matulino takes debutant Packer's starting spot while 22-Test veteran Adam Blair remains unavailable as he serves the last match of his suspension dating back to the Melbourne Storm's regular season NRL clash against Manly.

The only other change in the personnel used in Newcastle sees Leuluai coming onto the bench for 20-Test campaigner Nathan Fien.

Issac Luke has been handed the starting hooker's role Fien filled 10 days ago.

Melbourne second rower Sika Manu replaces Brisbane's Alex Glenn in the starting line-up and young Melbourne second rower Kevin Proctor is the 18th man.

The Kiwis have their final run at Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday.

Australia coach Tim Sheens is sticking with his side but is keeping his opposite number guessing by naming star centre Greg Inglis on an extended interchange bench.