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New Zealand coach Michael Maguire and captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak with Australia captain Boyd Cordner and coach Mal Meninga.

New Zealand players have almost double the Test experience of the new look Australian team but Kiwis coach Michael Maguire believes it is the combinations developed at junior level that will help his side overcome the world champions in Auckland on Saturday night.

Led by Adam Blair, who has worn the black and white jersey on 45 previous occasions, New Zealand boast a combined 191 Tests compared to 106 for the 17-man line-up announced by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.

Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson (25) and forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (24), Jesse Bromwich (24), Martin Taupau (21) and Kevin Proctor (17) have also played more Tests than Australia's most-capped player, Boyd Cordner (16).

With Cameron Smith (56) and Cooper Cronk (38) having stood down from representative football and Billy Slater (30) and Johnathan Thurston (38) having now retired, the Kangaroos have not only lost four potential future Immortals but a spine with 162 Tests between them.

Add the suspension of Greg Inglis, who has surrendered the captaincy to Cordner after being suspended for a drink driving offence, and Australia is missing more experience than the Kiwis now have at their disposal after the return of Jones, Bromwich, Blair and Proctor.

Match preview: Kiwis v Kangaroos

Yet the area of experience Maguire believes will benefit New Zealand most is the combinations many of his players developed by playing together for the Junior Kiwis or other age teams.

"The more time you spend with anyone the more connected the combinations are but they have connected well because a lot of them have played together over the years in junior footy," Maguire said.

New captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, prop Martin Taupau, halfback Kodi Nikorima, winger Jamayne Isaako, centres Joseph Manu and Esan Marsters, lock James Fisher-Harris, hooker Brandon Smith and extended squad member Joseph Tapine have all played for the Junior Kiwis in recent years.

"Here in New Zealand, a lot of them tend to come into the rep teams and they spend a fair bit of time going through the age groups," Maguire said. "Those younger kids who are coming through have been playing over the years together right through their representative footy."

After being forced to blood seven debutants in June's Denver Test, Maguire will have just two rookies on Saturday in Manu and Smith, compared to four – James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Luke Keary and Damien Cook – in the Australian line-up.

Waerea-Hargreaves said the Test against England at Mile High Stadium had enabled Maguire to introduce a lot of new players to the Kiwi culture.

"The boys got a game under their belt, they got to represent the nation and their families and got six months to dwell on what they have got to do and improve on to try and get back in the squad," Waerea-Hargreaves said.

"You look at our captain, He has been amongst the Kiwis for a few years and now he is our skipper. He is a real man, he has grown up in a short period of time and I am really proud of what he has become. I am looking forward to playing with him and playing for him as our captain."

Kangaroos and Kiwis feel the love at fan day

After being appointed captain on Tuesday, Watene-Zelezniak revealed he had consulted with New Zealand's captain in Denver, Issac Luke, and Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who are both out injured.

The pair were at Kiwis training on Friday and have thrown their support behind Watene-Zelezniak, as have Waerea-Hargreaves and Bromwich, who in Maguire's leadership group.

"We have got a lot of leaders in the team, I am the one who has the 'C' next to my name but at the end of the day we have guys like Jared and Jesse are making my job a lot easier," Watene-Zelezniak said.

"They actually pulled me aside and gave me their 100 per cent support. The main thing coming in when I accepted the job from Madge was that I had the support of the boys and the past players.

"The support of guys like Bully (Luke) and Roger has helped me grow in confidence and I look forward to leading these boys."

Despite only eight players remaining from Australia's successful World Cup campaign, Meninga said the atmosphere in the Kangaroos camp had not changed.

"We don't talk about the dawn of a new era or lost players who might have been in this footy team, it is about being a Kangaroo and what's important about being a Kangaroo and the expectations of being a Kangaroo," he said.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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