Kiwis name squad to face Aussies
Blockbusting forward Jason Taumalolo and teenage wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak have been named for their New Zealand Kiwis debuts in the 2014 Four Nations opener against Australia at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Coach Stephen Kearney has also re-united Keiran Foran and Shaun Johnson in the halves, with veteran utility Thomas Leuluai starting at hooker.
Watene-Zelezniak's inclusion is subject to a fitness test on a foot injury picked up in training early this week. He continues a proud family tradition in the Kiwis - great-grandfather Steve Watene is a former national team captain and lends his name to the NZ Player of the Year award.
"Dallin is an exciting young prospect, who we think will play many tests for the Kiwis in the future," says Kearney. "He'll be looking for to this opportunity to step up to the next level, but we'll have to wait and see how his foot mends up."
Taumalolo finally gets his chance to take the field for the Kiwis, after filling a non-playing role at the 2012 Anzac Test.
"His performances over the past year, but particularly over the last two months of the NRL, have been very consistent," says Kearney.
"Jason's always been there or thereabouts. He had an opportunity to get picked for the Anzac Test before he injured a shoulder and he's also been a Junior Kiwi."
Utility Lewis Brown also returns to the side, coming off the bench, after a three-year absence.
"I feel like this group has a good balance about it and we've certainly trained very well over the last couple of days, so you can feel the combinations starting to come together." says Kearney.
The full squad line-up for Saturday's encounter (6.45pm Queensland time) is:
1. Peta Hiku (Sea Eagles), 2. Jason Nightingale (Dragons), 3. Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roosters), 4. Dean Whare (Panthers), 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Panthers), 6. Kieran Foran (Sea Eagles), 7. Shaun Johnson (Warriors), 8. Jesse Bromwich (Storm), 9. Thomas Leuluai (Warriors), 10. Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), 11. Simon Mannering (c, Warriors), 12. Kevin Proctor (Storm), 13. Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys).
Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown (Panthers), 15. Greg Eastwood (Bulldogs), 16. Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), 17. Tohu Harris (Storm), 18. Suaia Matagi (Warriors). Coach: Stephen Kearney.