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NRL's Kiwi stars set for late return

NRL's Kiwi stars set for late return.jpg

Leeson Ah Mau of the Dragons is tackled by Kaysa Pritchard, (left), and Tepai Moeroa of the Eels during the Round 2 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Parramatta Eels at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, Sunday, March 12, 2017. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

New Zealand Test players will arrive back in Sydney just one day before the start of round 16 after their flight home from Denver was delayed by storms.

Kiwi players were originally due to leave Denver on Monday (Australian time), however their flight to San Francisco was cancelled when an electrical storm knocked out the control tower at the airport.

With no other flights available to connect to Sydney, players spent the night at a hotel near the airport but have since been booked in on a flight that will leave on Tuesday.

The delays haven't affected members of the English team, who flew home immediately after defeating the Kiwis.

Regardless, it will mean St George Illawarra forward Leeson Ah Mau will arrive back in the country on Wednesday, just one day before his team's clash with Parramatta.

The Dragons sent performance manager Nathan Pickworth on the tour to monitor Ah Mau and their English stars, and coach Paul McGregor has already said he'll take a cautious approach with team selection for the Eels clash.

However he must operate within the confines of his 30-man roster, after having four players in State of Origin, three in Denver and another two playing in last week's Pacific Test.

The Warriors also have three players on the flight, with coach Stephen Kearney unsure on Monday whether he would look to use Issac Luke, Peta Hiku and Ken Maumalo against Cronulla on Friday night.

Meanwhile Isaac Liu and Jared Waerea-Hargeaves will be Adelaide-bound if coach Trent Robinson opts to use them against Melbourne on Friday night, who will also draw upon Kiwi Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Robinson has a tricky juggling act on his plate, with fellow forward Boyd Cordner unlikely to play after sustaining a concussion in Origin and Dylan Napa also needing to back up in his pack.

It comes after a number of NRL clubs at first opposed the controversial Test, amid fears over player workloads through the middle of the season with an overseas trip and short turnaround.

However the game was considered a success, with England coach Wayne Bennett backing the fixture's future after almost 20,000 fans turned out at Mile High Stadium.

The Test is scheduled to also go ahead over the next two years - although it is again likely to be met with opposition - before North America hosts the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.

© AAP 2018

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