Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been denied a New Zealand Test debut for a second time after he took the early guilty plea for a dangerous throw charge on Tuesday.
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The Penrith star was charged with a grade one dangerous throw on Cronulla’s Wade Graham during Sunday’s match, which carries a one-week suspension.
Watene-Zelezniak was due to be named in New Zealand’s starting line-up for this week’s Test against Australia, but will miss out for the second time in six months after breaking a bone in his foot on the eve of the Four Nations.
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney said everyone involved in the Kiwi team was “gutted” for the gun youngster.
“We’re all gutted for Dallin and I know he’s very disappointed too,” Kearney said a statement.
“He’s a good kid, who was excited to be back in camp and champing at the bit to finally play for his country.
“But we took a look at the incident on video and there was little likelihood that we could get it scaled down if we’d fought it. Under the circumstances, we were better off taking it on the chin and moving on in our short preparation for this test, than diverting our energy into a judicial battle.
“It is what it is, but it’s important we move on quickly as a group. I’m sure Dallin will come back again and be a real asset to this team for many years to come.”
The 19-year-old has been replaced by St George Illawarra veteran Jason Nightingale.
Nightingale was the top try-scorer at the Four Nations, but only returned to action for the Dragons over the weekend after missing several weeks through injury.
NEW ZEALAND SQUAD:
1-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2-Jason Nightingale, 3-Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 4-Peta Hiku, 5-Manu Vatuvei, 6-Kieran Foren, 7-Shaun Johnson, 8-Jesse Bromwich, 9-Issac Luke, 10-Ben Matulino, 11-Tohu Harris, 12-Kevin Proctor, 13-Simon Mannering (c), 14-Thomas Leuluai, 15-Matin Taupau, 16-Sam Moa, 17-Greg Eastwood, 18-Lewis Brown