Rugby league: Kiwis coach Michael Maguire's message for dual-eligibility players in World Cup squad

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire hopes his recently named wider World Cup squad puts some players on notice and prompts them to consider choosing the black jersey going forward. 

In June, the Kiwis hope to play mid-year tests against Tonga and the Kangaroos, before the World Cup in England in October.

On Thursday, Maguire named a 38-man squad, which includes players such as Ronaldo Mulitalo, Josh Schuster and Chanel Harris-Tavita, who have dual eligibility. 

The Kiwis coach has a clear message for those named.

"We felt it was really important to let all our players know, all the Kiwi potentials and notable ones that may come through over the next 12 months, that we're watching," Maguire tells Newshub. 

"The fact that we've listed a wider squad was really to allow players to realise those opportunities in front of them."

Now, the challenge is to finalise who will commit to the Kiwis and who may opt to represent other countries. 

"I've got the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) working in the background around who is eligible and who is available," says Maguire.

"All of the players (in the squad) have basically reached out and said they want to be a part of the Kiwis jersey, so everyone that’s on those lists has the ability to be selected."

Schuster has already indicated he would choose to represent Australia, but Maguire wants to make all eligible players aware the Kiwis are an option for them. 

"I know Josh and we've had quite a number of conversations… and I wanted to make sure that he understood that from NZRL, myself as a coach, we are looking at players like him to build on what's been done in the past," says Maguire.

"I want him to know that those opportunities are available to him."

Meanwhile, Maguire expects Harris-Tavita - who has already played a test for Samoa - to be available, after coming through the Junior Kiwis ranks. 

"I spoke to Chanel two years ago about his path and which way he wanted to go," Maguire clarifies.

"I think what the [Junior Kiwis] and where they've come from and how they’ve grown up through the Kiwi jersey sticks solid to them."

Maguire admits he was pleasantly surprised when he sat back and looked at the names available to him. 

"It was really pleasing to see the depth," he says.

"When I first took on the role it was trying to understand the depths of the playing group. There was probably a core group coming through but we’re starting to see a stronger group of Kiwi players."

With the World Cup squad and another group of 'notable players' outlined, Maguire’s now looking to 2022 and the chance to claim a second World Cup title for New Zealand. 

He also hopes an International calendar is outlined sooner rather than later, to showcase the game at the highest level after a lengthy test hiatus caused by COVID-19 complications.

"To grow the game and to expand the game, the international piece is really important," he notes.

"I'm expecting the games (against Tonga and Australia) will be going ahead next year. We would have liked to have been playing a few test matches now but it wasn't to be."