Hurrell still to choose between NZ and Tonga

Konrad HurrellDECISIONS: Konrad Hurrell is yet to decide where his international future lies. Photo – Peter Meecham, Fairfax NZ

The international future of Konrad Hurrell is still up in the air, with the blockbusting Warriors centre admitting he is yet to make up his mind whether he make himself available for New Zealand or Tonga.

Hurrell burst onto the first-grade scene for the Warriors last season, scoring 12 tries in his first 17 games for the club, and has started 2013 with two tries in his first four outings.

The 21-year-old centre was born and raised in Tofoa, Tonga, before moving to New Zealand to take up a rugby union scholarship with Auckland Grammar School in late 2009.

Hurrell, who is yet to hold a full New Zealand visa, signed a letter of intent to play for the Kiwis last year.

However, he told Sunday News last week he had yet to decide whether he wants to pull on the black of New Zealand, or the red of Tonga, when he gets the international call.

“At the moment, it’s still 50-50,” Hurrell said. “Before, I always thought it would be the Kiwis, but it’s pretty hard at the moment.

“To get myself there [in either team], I just have to work hard on the field. At the moment, it’s 50-50. I still want to make a team to play in the World Cup – but at the moment, it’s hard to choose.”

Hurrell’s name could potentially be in the mix when Tonga announce their team for a one-off test against Samoa in Sydney on April 20.

The young centre may be considered too raw for the international game at this stage, with his defence still needing plenty of work at the NRL level, though a Rugby League World Cup call-up is certainly possible.

Hurrell’s path to a Kiwis jumper for the October/November tournament in the northern hemisphere looks blocked by the likes of Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Krisnan Inu, Simon Mannering and Dean Whare.

A place in the Tongan team, captained by club team-mate Feleti Mateo, would see Hurrell face far less competition.

“I always wanted to represent my country, but you come here [to New Zealand] for a reason, and that is to develop yourself from where you were before,” he said. “I want to take my time, and make sure I don’t regret my decision.”

Hurrell’s comments come after the news last week that Samoa had secured the services of former Kiwi Steve Matai for the World Cup. It is understood that a raft of former New Zealand internationals will front for the Island nations during the tournament. Hurrell believes that’s a positive step for international rugby league.

“From what I’ve heard, there’ll be no weak sides at the World Cup,” he said. “It’s good that more and more people are going back to their original countries to help them. I’d certainly be looking forward to it if I made it. It would be my first World Cup ever – league or union – so fingers crossed I can make a team.”

Ben Stanley
Fairfax NZ News

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