After featuring at the Four Nations tournament at the end of last season, Leuluai expected the pool play clash against Scotland – where he suffered a broken jaw midway through the match – would be his 36th and final Test for New Zealand.But this week he spoke of his joy when coach David Kidwell confirmed he would be part of the 24-man squad despite the selection of UK-based Kiwi players being almost unheard in the current international environment.”Yeah, I most probably felt like [my Kiwis career over]. Then halfway through the year [Kidwell] gave me a call and I knew I was in the mix there, and I was lucky enough to get the call towards the end of the season,” Leuluai said.”I was quite surprised if I’m honest, I’m very honoured… to go to the World Cup with the Kiwis is always a great honour.”While he played almost exclusively as a half for the Wigan Warriors this year, Leuluai is also vastly experienced at hooker where he has played at both NRL Telstra Premiership and Test level.With Issac Luke a shock omission based on form, 32-year-old Leuluai shapes as the leading contender to wear the Kiwis’ No.9 jersey with youngsters Danny Levi and Kodi Nikorima also in the mix. “I think [I’ll be used] more in the hooker role, obviously I can play both positions, so it’s cover for both,” Leuluai said. “But predominantly [Kidwell] said focus on nine. I’m happy with that, I’ve done it my whole career.”Despite his Wigan side failing to make the play-offs, Leuluai’s season stretched deep into September, leaving no issues with match fitness.”It’s the latest I have played for the last few years, so I didn’t have to do too much training on my own before Kiwi camp,” he said. “We trained [on Monday] and it was tough, I haven’t done too much, but I think I stopped playing four weeks ago so it’s not too bad.” The Kiwis will depart for a camp in the Waikato town of Ngaruawahia on Tuesday as they build towards their opening match of the World Cup against Samoa on October 28 in Auckland.
Michael Dawson Hull captain Michael Dawson has been ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring injury.The former Tottenham star was forced off in the first half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City and is expected to be sidelined until the end of December.The loss of Dawson will come as a big blow to Steve Bruce, whose side are sitting top of the Championship following an impressive 11-match unbeaten run.Much of that success has been down to City’s sturdy defence – the best in the league having conceded just nine goals in 17 games.“Scans have confirmed that Michael Dawson sustained a grade two hamstring injury during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City,” a statement on the club’s official website read.“The injury is expected to keep Dawson out of action for three to four weeks.”Dawson was already due to miss Friday’s match against Derby through suspension, which will keep out left-back Andrew Robertson.David Meyler faces eight weeks out due to a knee injury, while Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass have yet to feature this season. 1