New Zealand have been dealt another hammer blow ahead of their tour to England this month after it emerged half-back Kieran Foran is the latest to pull out due to injury.
Foran, who is moving from Manly to Parramatta in the close season, has pulled out of the Kiwis’ train-on squad in order to rest an elbow injury that has dogged him for much of the 2015 season.
Johnson, a scourge of England over the last two years, was ruled out in the summer with an ankle injury and coach Stephen Kearney has also been denied the services of former Wigan half-back or hooker Thomas Leuluai, who missed the end of the NRL season with a knee injury.
The latest withdrawal might have opened the door for former captain Benji Marshall, but Kearney said on Thursday he would not be going back on his decision to omit the St George Illawarra half-back from his training squad.
That means Kearney will almost certainly turn to rookies Tuimoala Lolohea, of New Zealand Warriors, and Brisbane Broncos’ Kodi Nikorima as his halves pairing for the tour, which starts with a match against Leeds at Headingley on Friday, October 23 before the first of three Tests in Hull on Sunday, November 1.