Zero Warriors named in Kiwis team to play Tonga
Parramatta duo Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore plus Cronulla winger Ronaldo Mulitalo and Penrith prop Moses Leota are all set to play their first games for the Kiwis.
But the nation’s struggling NRL team based in Auckland won’t have any players on the park after Dallin Watene-Zeleniak missed the final cut for the match-day 17.
Maguire has opted for Sydney Roosters centre Joey Manu at fullback after an impressive showing in that position when filling in for James Tedesco in the NRL.
In-form Canberra prop Joe Tapine reverts to a former role, shifting to lock to allow NZ skipper Jesse Bromwich and James Fisher-Harris to team up in the front row.
Bromwich’s brother Kenny will play on one edge with Parramatta gun Isaiah Papali’i on the other, while Melbourne’s Brandon Smith will play at hooker.
But the damage will surely be done by the backs, with Mulitalo and Jordan Rapana on wings, Niukore and Peta Hiku in the centres and Jahrome Hughes and Brown teaming up in the halves.
Veteran Kieran Foran gets the bench utility role.
It’s a far different side from when the Kiwis last took to the field back in 2019, with just four players – Manu, Smith and Tapine and Briton Nikora – remaining in the 17-man line-up.
The battle of the forward packs will be one of the contest’s more intriguing factors, with Tonga’s forwards to include Jason Taumalolo, Addin Fonua-Blake and Keaon Koloamatangi.
New Zealand team 1-17: Joey Manu, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Marata Niukore, Peta Hiku, Jordan Rapana, Dylan Brown, Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich, Brandon Smith, James Fisher-Harris, Isaiah Papali’i, Kenny Bromwich, Joe Tapine. Bench: Kieran Foran, Moses Leota, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Briton Nikor
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