A year after Jason Taumalolo turned the international game on its head by leading the defection of New Zealand players to Tonga for the World Cup, the Kiwis have convinced Agnatius Paasi to go the other way.
The Warriors prop had been selected in an extended Tonga squad for the October 20 Test against Australia at Mt Smart Stadium but he may now line up against the Kangaroos a week earlier after being a late addition for the Kiwis.
New Zealand coach Michael Maguire said on Monday he was yet to finalise his squad after Melbourne prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona (ankle) and Sydney Roosters forward Zane Tetevano (bicep) were ruled out with injuries sustained in the grand final.
Warriors second-rower Isaiah Papali'i was called up to fill one spot and Paasi's inclusion was announced on Thursday, along with club-mate Peta Hiku, following the withdrawal of Canterbury-bound Penrith backrower Corey Harawira-Naera (groin).
Paasi was born in Tonga and represented the Mate Ma'a in the 2014 Pacific Test against Samoa but grew up in New Zealand before moving to Australia as a 17-year-old to take up a scholarship at Keebra Park High.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf, who will announce a final 19-man squad on Friday for the historic Test against the Kangaroos, said he had accepted Paasi's decision to withdraw from the Mate Ma'a squad.
Fend-tastic! The best fends of 2018
"He called yesterday and told me he'd had a call from the Kiwis and had changed his mind," Woolf said. "If he is more comfortable there then he should play for them."
Paasi's decision means the 24-man New Zealand squad for the October 13 Test against Australia and tour to England now contains five Kiwi newcomers.
Storm duo Brandon Smith and Jahrome Hughes, Papali'i, Paasi and Roosters centre Joseph Manu are the players yet to the make their Test debuts for New Zealand.
"It's really disappointing for Nelson, Zane and Corey who were all so keen to be involved, especially Zane and Corey who were in line to make their debuts," Maguire said.
"But it's exciting now for Isaiah and Agnatius who have the chance to debut and also for Peta to again be part of the Kiwis. They've all had strong seasons for the Warriors and we are thrilled to be able to call on them."
Paasi, who made one NRL appearance for the Warriors in 2014, spent three seasons with the Gold Coast Titans before returning to Auckland this year.
A first-choice starter after coming into the side in the third round, he then played every game lifting his career tally to 78 games. He averaged 40 minutes a match, 101 metres, 38 post-contact metres and 22 tackles while scoring three tries.
The Kiwis go into camp on Sunday to begin preparations for the first Test against Australia in New Zealand since 2014.
Updated New Zealand squad: Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra), Gerard Beale (Warriors), Adam Blair (Warriors), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne), Kenny Bromwich (Melbourne), James Fisher-Harris (Penrith), Peta Hiku (Warriors), Jahrome Hughes (Melbourne), Jamayne Isaako (Brisbane), Shaun Johnson (Warriors), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters), Jospeh Manu (Sydney Roosters), Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), Ken Maumalo (Warriors), Kodi Nikorima (Brisbane), Isaiah Papali'i (Warriors), Agnatius Paasi (Warriors), Kevin Proctor (Gold Coast) Jordan Rapana (Canberra), Brandon Smith (Melbourne), Joseph Tapine (Canberra), Martin Taupau (Manly), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith).
The biggest hits of 2018
Meanwhile, England coach Wayne Bennett has named six NRL players - George, Sam and Tom Burgess, James Graham, Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead in his squad for the three-Test series against New Zealand.
Canberra-bound second-rower John Bateman is also in the squad, along with former Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins and ex-Gold Coast forward Joe Greenwood.
England squad: John Bateman (Wigan), George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess (all South Sydney), Daryl Clark (Warrington), Jake Connor (Hull FC), Luke Gale (Castleford), James Graham (St George Illawarra), Joe Greenwood (Wigan), Chris Hill (Warrington), Josh Hodgson (Canberra), Tom Johnstone (Warrington), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Reece Lyne (Wakefield), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield), Adam Milner (Castleford), Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan), Mark Percival (St Helens), Stefan Ratchford (Warrington), Luke Thompson (St Helens), Sam Tomkins (Wigan), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra), George Williams (Wigan).