March 14, 2018 / 11:11 PM / 10 months ago

Former All Blacks great Kirwan's son named in NZ squad

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Niko Kirwan, the son of former All Blacks winger John, has been called into the New Zealand soccer squad for the first time.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder was one of six uncapped players named by new coach Fritz Schmid for a friendly against Canada in Murcia, Spain on March 24.

John Kirwan played 63 tests for the All Blacks from 1984 until 1994 and scored 35 tries, including one 80-metre effort against Italy in the opening game of the first rugby World Cup in 1987 that still makes highlights reels 30 years later.

Niko, however, spent much of his early life in Italy, where his father was coaching rugby. He played in New Zealand’s amateur national competition before he moved to Italian third tier-side AC Mestre.

Schmid, who replaced Anthony Hudson after the All Whites failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, also chose not to pick several first-choice players like Burnley’s Chris Wood for the friendly that will be played behind closed doors.

“We know what all of those players can offer the national team,” the Swiss said in a statement.

“They are not selected for this window, but they all know that they are on my watch-list and that they will be offered an opportunity to prove their value in due time.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ed Osmond

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