Foran puts hand up for NZ league Test

A fit and healthy Kieran Foran has put his hand up to play his first rugby league Test for New Zealand since 2017.

Kieran Foran of the Bulldogs runs the ball during the NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on Sydney, Australia.
Kieran Foran of the Bulldogs runs the ball during the NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on Sydney, Australia. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Former New Zealand rugby league skipper Kieran Foran has put his hand up to represent the Kiwis again for their Test against Tonga.

Foran hasn't pulled on the black jumper since the last Anzac Day Test in 2017, having battled injury for the second half of last year.

The 28-year-old also missed five games earlier this season due to an ankle injury, but declared himself back to full strength after playing four-straight games.

"My body's starting to feel really good," Foran said ahead of Monday's public holiday NRL clash with St George Illawarra.

"It's great to be playing week in, week out footy and not have any niggles and injuries at the moment. My ankle's feeling good. Physically, I feel really good."

Asked when the last time was he played without niggles, Foran said: "When I say no niggles, I've always got niggles.

"But it's nice just to be playing 80 minutes every week and backing up. That's what I'm challenging myself to do hopefully for the rest of the year."

A fit and healthy Foran might result in a call-up for the Test in Auckland.

Kodi Nikorima and Shaun Johnson are the incumbents, although Johnson has been injured for the past six weeks with a hamstring issue.

He is expected to make his return for Cronulla on Thursday night against Canberra.

Another ex-captain in Benji Marshall, who plays under Kiwis coach Michael Maguire at the Wests Tigers, is a fourth option.

While focused on his form with the Bulldogs, Foran insisted a burning desire remained to represent his country of birth.

"The flame's always burning deep inside. That never goes away. For a New Zealander, that's as good as it gets for us," he said.

"The desire's definitely there, and the hunger. But I've got to focus on what I'm doing here week to week."

Dylan Napa is expected to back up from State of Origin I against the Dragons, as are St George Illawarra representative trio, Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell and Ben Hunt.

The last-placed Bulldogs have lost four of their past five matches, while the Dragons, in 13th, are aiming to avoid six-successive defeats.

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Canterbury have won 12 of their past 15 against the Dragons going back to 2012 but are hoping to avoid two-straight losses against them since 2011

* The Bulldogs and Dragons are in the bottom two in the league for points and metres conceded

* The Dragons are looking to avoid six-consecutive losses for the first time since 2015.


AAP