By STEVE MASCORD
UNBRIDLED joy should be Dean Whare’s reaction to receiving his first Test call up on Saturday night at the same ground where his NRL debut brought him three tries.
But events at Manly this week involving the NSW Cup team he has spent much of the intervening period playing for, he admitted last night, have soured things somewhat. While Whare jetted off to Cairns to prepare for the Test, clubmate Jason Annear was found dead at the bottom of a cliff after the Sea Eagles presentation night.
“It’s really upset everyone at the club and it was a huge shock when we got the call about it,” Whare, 22, told the Herald.
“I didn’t play with him as much as you might think, a couple of games last year, some others here and there. But I knew him, knew who he was and it’s terrible. After the club presso, I flew up here to camp and now I’m just trying to concentrate on the game.”
Whare was quick to remind his Kiwis team-mates that he made his debut at NRL debut at Dairy Farmers Stadium in 2010 and scored a hat-trick. He was heralded as the next big thing at the time but “I always knew I’d be back out of the team pretty quickly.
“Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon are pretty good players in my posiition. I got injured, missed a lot of football, played NSW Cup. I think it made me a better player.”
Whare got a sniff of a return to the top grade when he travelled to the World Club Challenge at the start of the year, without playing. By the end of the season, he had forced his way back into the Sea Eagles side.
He said it was likely he’d be defending on the side of Australia’s Morris twins, Josh and Brett. “That is going to be a big challenge,” he said. “It will be the biggest game of my career.” The other Kiwi debutants are Kevin Proctor and Sam Kasiano
Shaun Johnson and Sam McKendry are the men who missed out on coach Stephen Kearney’s final 17-man squad, named yesterday. The Kiwis travel from Cairns to Townsville today.
NEW ZEALAND: Josh Hoffman (Brisbane); Sam Perrett (Canterbury), Krisnan Inu (Canterbury), Dean Whare (Manly), Gerard Beale (Brisbane); Benji Marshall (capt, Wests Tigers), Kieran Foran (Manly); Simon Mannering (Warriors), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury), Sam Kasiano (Canterbury), Issac Luke (South Sydney), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne).
Reserves: Elijah Taylor (Warriors), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers).
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD