As pressure mounts on Shaun Kenny-Dowall to maintain his right centre spot for New Zealand, rookie Test winger Jordan Rapana has thrown his support behind the veteran Rooster.
After enduring a tough afternoon at the office when the Kiwis met the Kangaroos in a pre-tournament hit-out in Perth, where he made four errors and missed a number of key defensive assignments on opposite number Greg Inglis, Kenny-Dowall has appeared to struggle for confidence in subsequent matches during the Four Nations.
He showed improvement last week against Australia, setting up Rapana's 77th-minute try with a well-timed draw and pass, but with Cronulla Sharks premiership winner Gerard Beale and young Warrior David Fusitu'a knocking on the door, the 20-Test veteran's spot remains in question.
However right-side partner Jordan Rapana told NRL.com that the criticism was unfair, and backed 'SKD' to find top form again as New Zealand push towards a Four Nations final berth.
"When Kenny-Dowall is on he is definitely one of the best centres in the game, he is capable of setting me up with a lot of tries and I have got no doubt that once he hits his peak form and confidence is high, that he will be able to do anything," Rapana said ahead of New Zealand's match against Scotland on Saturday morning (AEDT).
"He is my roommate and an awesome bloke, I definitely wouldn't say his confidence is down, it is more just that he hasn't played much footy over the last while.
"Anybody would be a bit rusty if they had been out of the game for a little bit.
"But the more games he plays then the more confident he is going to get on the field and he will be back to his playing best; I have no doubt.
"He has always worn that jersey with pride… I know he is a quality player and he will be great for the Kiwis still."
Meanwhile veteran Kiwi forward Adam Blair said it was unlikely coach David Kidwell would implement a rotation policy with his players ahead of the Scotland clash, despite it being a feature of Mal Meninga's plans with the Kangaroos so far at the tournament.
"It is a Test match and we need to win it no matter what, so I won't be saying no to getting a chance to play, and anytime you get the opportunity to play for your country you're not going to say no," Blair said.
"We haven't even spoken about [rotating players] at the moment.
"My thoughts are that it is a Test and I want to be playing, we want the best team on the field to put the best foot forward and try and win the game."
This article first appeared on NRL.com