Former Kiwis captain Simon Mannering is one of three senior players under pressure to retain or reclaim their spots with national selectors divided over whether to include him in their World Cup squad.

Most Kiwis fans would have Mannering among the first players picked, however the Warriors' stalwart's inclusion is not guaranteed and his potential role remains the topic of great debate among the Kiwis' brains trust.

Kiwis coach David Kidwell is understood to be a strong advocate of Mannering and eager to have him among his 24-man squad. But Kidwell and fellow selectors Tawera Nikau, Hugh McGahan and Tony Iro are yet to determine how or where the 42-test veteran fits into plans to drastically revamp the side's style of play.

Incumbent hooker Issac Luke is another who could pay the price for the Warriors poor NRL season, while Sydney Roosters front-rower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves needs to produce a block-buster performance in tomorrow night's grand final qualifier against North Queensland, to prove he's deserving of a test recall.

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"Those are the things that we have to deliberate over as selectors, but Simon's one of those players that you know what you're going to get out of him week-in and week-out," Nikau explained to the Herald.

"But is that going to be good enough to play the brand of football that we need? Those are the discussions and the debates that we are currently having at the moment.

"Everyone will say that he's the heart and soul of the Warriors, but at the end of the day, we've going to pick a squad that's going to play a style of football that David wants to play, but also be able to challenge the Aussies, the English, Samoans and Tongans.

"Those are the tough conversations and debates that we need to have."

A Kiwis squad without Mannering is almost unthinkable. But even if he does make the cut for the end of season tournament, he may find himself relegated to a spot on the interchange bench.

"There is some discussion and debate about that," said Nikau. "Is he starting or coming off the bench? There's a whole lot of those different conversations (happening).

"But it's (about) what does he actually bring to the team. You know what you're going to get out of him.

"There are those debates. We're having those conversations."

Kidwell, together with recently appointed technical analyst and veteran NRL coach, Brian Smith, have formulated a plan to improve the Kiwis struggling attack.

A change in tactics is desperately needed. The Kiwis have lost their last four tests against the Kangaroos and managed just one win from six starts since Kidwell replaced former coach Stephen Kearney last September.

Incumbent Kiwis hooker Issac Luke is no certainty to make the 24-man World Cup squad. Photo / Photosport.
Incumbent Kiwis hooker Issac Luke is no certainty to make the 24-man World Cup squad. Photo / Photosport.

"David's got a game plan to change that and has had a look at trying to exploit how we want to play in the World Cup," said Nikau.

"Coming up with a plan to be able to do that and deliver is quite exciting. There's a really great opportunity for us to expand and develop and bring something different to the table.

"Picking a team that fits that is a key job for us as selectors."

The Herald understands the Kiwis forwards will be given greater licence to use the ball, with halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck instructed to play at the line and provide constant support through the middle of the ruck.

Having a speedy dummyhalf is also integral to that plan, and Luke, who was dropped from the Warriors starting side for the round 23 match against Canberra, could also find himself out in the cold.

Former Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai is expected to win selection and provide cover for hooker and the halves. Young Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Levi is believed to be the main challenger to win the role as back-up hooker, ahead of Storm rookie Brandon Smith, who will turn out for the Sunshine Coast in Sunday's Intrust Super Cup grand final against the PNG Hunters at Suncorp Stadium.

Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is under pressure to deliver in Saturday's grand final qualifier against the Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images.
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is under pressure to deliver in Saturday's grand final qualifier against the Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images.

The pressure is also on Waerea-Hargreaves to not only contain Kiwis and Cowboys powerhouse Jason Taumalolo, but maintain his discipline in tomorrow night's clash at Allianz Stadium.

The Roosters' enforcer was picked for last year's Four Nations but failed to deliver when it mattered and was overlooked for the Anzac test in Canberra in May.

"Jared brings a whole lot of aggression but with that he also tends to step over the line sometimes," said Nikau.

"In the past he's been guilty of giving away too many penalties and probably drifting in and out of games.

"He hasn't delivered on the international stage so the pressure is on him to deliver and perform."