Kenny-Dowall and Smith return to Test scene
Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Jeremy Smith both return to Test football after long absences when the Kiwis face Toa Samoa in the first-ever international between the two sides at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night. <br><br> Kenny-Dowall will start in the centres after playing his one and only Test against France in Paris in 2007 while Smith is in the Kiwi line-up for the first time since New Zealand’s Rugby League World Cup triumph against the Kangaroos in November 2008. <br><br> Also set to return after last playing in the 2009 Anzac Test in Brisbane are Vodafone Warriors team-mates Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei. <br><br> Mannering has been named on the bench after spending the last two days in bed with a virus. <br><br> Vatuvei, who scored 20 tries in 19 NRL appearances this year, is back on the left wing while St George Illawarra’s NRL premiership winner Jason Nightingale is on the right wing. <br><br> In other changes from the Kiwi line-up beaten 12-8 in the Anzac Test in May, Kenny-Dowall is in the centres for the suspended Steve Matai and Thomas Leuluai replaces the injured Kieran Foran at halfback. <br><br> Leuluai was named man of the match after Wigan’s Super League grand final win over St Helens at Old Trafford on October 2. <br><br> Greg Eastwood (Leeds) will start at prop along with Adam Blair, who was used in the back row in the Anzac Test. Incumbent second rower Bronson Harrison is rejoined by Penrith’s Frank Pritchard, who missed the May clash against Australia and Smith starts at loose forward. <br><br> In naming a 19-man squad, Kearney has left out wingers Sam Perrett and Antonio Winterstein while he confirmed today that new Kiwis Lewis Brown and Sam McKendry would play for New Zealand Maori in Saturday night’s curtain-raiser against England. <br><br> “It hasn’t been an easy side to pick because this time we do have most of leading players available,” he said. <br><br> “It means there is great competition for places and some players will be disappointed to miss out on a Test, especially one like this which is the first New Zealand has played against Samoa. <br><br> “Tonga gave us a real challenge when we played them in Rotorua before last year’s Four Nations and, looking at the strength of Samoa’s side, we know we’ll be in for a tough night this week. <br><br> “That’s what we expect and what we need to ensure we’re in the best shape we can be for England (in Wellington) next weekend.” <br><br> While he has since become Sir Peter Leitch, the trophy that bears his name – the Peter Leitch QSM Challenge Trophy – will be defended by the Kiwis again on Saturday night. It was first contested when the New Zealanders met and defeated Tonga ahead of the 2008 World Cup and is at stake whenever New Zealand plays one of the Pacific nations. The Kiwis retained it by beating Tonga last year. <br><br> The Kiwis have been based at the Millennium Institute on the North Shore ahead of the Toa Samoa international this week but move into The Heritage in central Auckland on Friday to complete their pre-match preparations. <br><br> Their Four Nations encounters are against England at Westpac Stadium in Wellington (October 23), Papua New Guinea at the International Stadium in Rotorua (October 30) and Australia at Eden Park in Auckland (November 6). <br><br> The match against the Kangaroos is the second half of a doubleheader kicking off with England facing Papua New Guinea while the Junior Kiwis face the Junior Kangaroos in the curtain-raisers to the matches in Wellington and Rotorua. <br><br> The Four Nations final is scheduled for Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on November 13. <br><br> Tickets for the Four Nations games in New Zealand and Australia are on sale now. <a href="http//:www.nzrl.co.nz">Click here</a> for more information). Tickets for the Test against Samoa are also on sale. <br><br> <b>NZ Kiwis v Toa Samoa</b> Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland – 7.30pm, Sat, Oct 16 Referee: Shane Rehm (NZ) <b>NZ Kiwis team: Lance Hohaia (Warriors), Jason Nightingale (Dragons), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roosters), Junior Sa’u (Knights) , Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors) Benji Marshall – C (Tigers), Thomas Leuluai (Wigan), Greg Eastwood (Leeds), Issac Luke (Rabbitohs), Adam Blair (Storm), Frank Pritchard (Panthers), Bronson Harrison (Raiders), Jeremy Smith (Dragons). Interchange (from): Nathan Fien (Dragons), Ben Matulino, (Warriors), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Roosters), Simon Mannering (Warriors), Sika Manu (Storm), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters).</b> <br><br>For more information on the 2010 Four Nations go to <a href="http://www.rlfournations.com">www.rlfournations.com</a> and join us on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/fournations">Facebook</a>.