READY FOR NZ DE­BUT

Third time lucky as for­mer Comet pre­pares to line up for Ki­wis against Aus­tralia

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Jil­lian McKee

FOR­MER St Clair Comets rugby league player Dallin Watene-Zelez­niak is fi­nally set to make his in­ter­na­tional foot­ball de­but next week.

The cur­rent Pen­rith Pan­thers first-grader, who can line up at full­back, wing and in the cen­tres, was se­lected for the squad twice be­fore but missed out due to in­jury and sus­pen­sion.

Watene-Zelez­niak suf­fered an an­kle in­jury while train­ing at the beach with the New Zealand squad in 2014.

And the fol­low­ing year he again was set to make his de­but but was ruled out af­ter be­ing charged with a dan­ger­ous tackle on Sharks player Wade Gra­ham.

With the game just days away, the 20-year-old is now hop­ing 2016 is his year.

New Zealand-born Watene-Zelez­niak moved to Sydney when he was five.

He played his ju­nior rugby league with the St Clair Comets be­fore be­ing se­lected to play for the Pen­rith Pan- thers in 2013 when he was just 18.

St Clair Comets sec­re­tary Bill Borg told The Stan­dard that Watene-Zelez­niak al­ways was a stand­out player.

“He was one of our ju­niors for many years up un­til three or four years ago,” Borg said. “Dallin was al­ways a class above ev­ery­one else on the field.

“Above all, he is just a lovely kid.

“He was picked last year but broke his an­kle at the beach – the poor thing wasn’t even play­ing foot­ball when it hap­pened.”

Watene-Zelez­niak will take his place in the New Zealand side to take on Aus­tralia this Fri­day (May 6) at Hunter Sta­dium in New­cas­tle. Kick-off is at 7.50pm. Tick­ets: visit nrl.com.au or tick­et­mas­ter.com.au.

Dallin was al­ways a class above ev­ery­one else Bill Borg

Pic­ture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Im­ages

Mark Bridge gets phys­i­cal with Bruce Ka­mau, of Ade­laide United.

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