Hape in line to fill Vainikolo's Kiwi spot

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The Independent Online

Shontayne Hape of Bradford, is strongly tipped to win his first cap for New Zealand in the Tri-Nations international against Great Britain at Huddersfield on Saturday.

Shontayne Hape of Bradford, is strongly tipped to win his first cap for New Zealand in the Tri-Nations international against Great Britain at Huddersfield on Saturday.

The Kiwis have delayed naming their side until today, but Hape is poised to take over from his Bulls team-mate, Lesley Vainikolo, who has pulled out of the squad for knee surgery.

The Kiwis assistant coach, James Leuluai, said that Hape had strengthened his claim with his display for the Anzac side against Cumbria last week, and another Bradford team-mate, Jamie Peacock, expects to be facing him at Huddersfield.

"I'd pick him if I was their coach," said Peacock. "He's skilful, with great hands, and he's toughened up a lot since he came over here." Leeds' second-rower, Ali Lauiti'iti, has been added to the New Zealand squad for this game after missing their match against Australia because of a family trip to America.

"He is very much in the mix," said their team manager, Gordon Gibbons.

Brian Carney has been in full training with Great Britain and is expected to play despite the hamstring cramp that forced him off the field in the second half against Australia last Saturday.

Leigh have made another signing for their first season in Super League - South Sydney's Samoan second-rower, Marc Leafa. "He is the same build as David Solomona and Willie Poching and will give our pack the extra dimension," said the Leigh coach, Darren Abram.

Widnes have signed Andrew Emilio from Cronulla.

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