Coach David Kidwell has kept the squad intact for the Four Nations match that opens their Four Nations campaign despite an out of character 26 – 6 loss to Australia.
Solomone Kata of the Warriors and Jordan Rapana of Canberra are still on the list after making their Test debuts in Perth a fortnight ago. The halves will feature Wigan’s Thomas Leuluai and Shaun Johnson.
This will be the second match with Kidwell in charge. He thought a lack of conditioning was the undoing of his team in Perth, but that the team has since trained with purpose and will be poised to atone for the downfall.
The Kiwis expect to benefit from the return of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to toughen up the outside of the pack. Kidwell knows that the hopes of the side rest on the ability to contain English stars Sam and George Burgess.
Kidwell expects the game to be won by the team than can dominate the front, as both teams have strong forward packs. He added that the middle men will need to contribute beyond their competition in support of the front.
The New Zealand squad is something of a NRL Who’s Who of players, with four from the NZ Warriors and the balance from around the league.