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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
In-form Smith wins Kiwi call-up
Michael Smith in action for Castleford
Smith (right) was playing in the NFP two years ago
Castleford forward Michael Smith is one of four Super League-based players to be named in New Zealand's squad for the end-of-season tour of Britain.

The call-up represents a meteoric rise for 26-year-old Smith, who was playing for York in the Northern Ford Premiership two years ago.

The in-form second-rower is joined in the 26-man squad by Bradford captain Robbie Paul, his Bulls team-mate Tevita Vaikona and Wigan front-rower Craig Smith.

But there are no places for the Bradford pair Joe Vagana and Lesley Vainikolo, who were both in the Kiwi side beaten 40-12 by Australia in the 2000 World Cup final.

Lesley Vainikolo goes on the attack for Bradford
Vainikolo has been left out of the 16-man squad
Vaikona is returning to the New Zealand fold, having been a Junior Kiwi before representing Tonga at senior level.

The Bradford winger said: "I never thought I would be called up, especially with the amount of players available and the way New Zealand Warriors have been going this season.

"Although I never gave myself a chance of playing for New Zealand, I feel privileged to be included in the team.

"It's the way my international career started."

As expected the bulk of the 26-man squad come from the highly-successful New Zealand Warriors, who won the NRL minor premiership this season.

New Zealand will play a Test against Australia in Wellington on 12 October before embarking on an eight-match tour of Europe.

They kick off with a match against Hull on 22 October and play three Tests against Great Britain before signing off against France on 1 December.


New Zealand squad: Nathan Cayless, David Vaealiki, David Solomona (Parramatta), Richard Swain, Stephen Kearney (Melbourne), Nigel Vagana, Matt Utai, Paul Rauhihi (Canterbury Bulldogs), Stacey Jones, Lance Hohaia, Ali Lauitiiti, Awen Guttenbeil, Jerry Seuseu, Clinton Toopi, Motu Tony, Francis Meli, Henry Faafili, Logan Swann, Monty Betham (NZ Warriors), Craig Smith (Wigan), Michael Smith (Castleford), Robbie Paul, Tevita Vaikona (Bradford), Jason Cayless (Sydney Roosters), Ruben Wiki (Canberra), Tony Puletua (Penrith).

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