New Zealand have named three rookies in their squad to play Australia in the Four Nations opener in Brisbane on Saturday night.
Coach Stephen Kearney sees great things in teenage winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, but first the rookie must pass a fitness test ahead of his Test debut in New Zealand’s Four Nations opener against Australia.
The 19-year-old Penrith flyer was one of three rookies named in the Kiwi squad for Saturday night’s game in Brisbane.
But Kearney said Watene-Zelezniak’s inclusion is subject to a fitness test on a foot injury picked up this week at training.
“Dallin is an exciting young prospect who we think will play many Tests for the Kiwis in the future,” he said.
New Zealand Warriors powerhouse prop Suaia Matagi will also debut if he forces his way into the team from 18th man.
Kearney has re-united Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson in the halves, with veteran utility Thomas Leuluai starting at hooker.
Taumalolo finally gets his chance to take the field for the Kiwis, after filling a non-playing role in the 2012 Anzac Test.
The coach says he can feel the combinations starting to come together.
“I feel like this group has a good balance about it and we’ve certainly trained very well over the last couple of days,” said Kearney.
Utility Lewis Brown returns to the side, coming off the bench, after a three-year absence.
New Zealand: Peta Hiku, Jason Nightingale, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Dean Whare, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Thomas Leuluai, Adam Blair, Simon Mannering (capt), Kevin Proctor, Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, Martin Taupau, Tohu Harris, Suaia Matagi (one to be omitted).