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Youngster catches Kearney's eye

Youngster catches Kearney's eye

Teenage wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak made quite a splash in his first grade debut for Penrith, scoring two tries and impressing NZ Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney with his accomplished performance.

The 18-year-old grandson of former Kiwis captain Steve Watene starred in the Panthers' 12-6 win over Canberra Raiders.

"I wanted to make mention of this kid for the fact that he made his debut and scored those tries in a tight contest," observes Kearney.

"This isn't so much about the performance, but the fact he's done it at such a young age."

Watene-Zelezniak was born in Hamilton and moved to Sydney as a youngster, helping Penrith to victory over the NZ Warriors in last year's NYC Grand Final. He has also played for the Junior Kiwis.

Another bolter to capture Kearney's attention this week was second rower Manu Ma'u, who rolled out another blockbusting performance for the Parramatta Eels in their 25-18 result over Brisbane Broncos.

Born in Auckland, Ma'u served two years in prison after a gang-related incident, but has rekindled his league career with the Eels this season, starting with his debut against the Warriors in Round One.

"He has been really good for the past three weeks especially, against Manly, Penrith and now us," says Kearney, who is also Broncos assistant coach.

"I thought the way he has been playing is really impressive and the story that goes with him is a real credit."

Ma'u ran for 110 metres and made 27 tackles for the Eels against Brisbane.

Meanwhile, veteran Sam Perrett continued his fine form for Canterbury Bulldogs at fullback in their 9-8 nailbiter over reigning champions Sydney Roosters.

Perrett (Kiwi #744) ran for 173 metres from the back.

"Sam's getting back to playing the way we know he can," says Kearney. "He's been really good for the Bulldogs, who rely on him to provide momentum on attack."

Ends

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