League: Chance for rookie Kiwis

Winger Bryson Goodwin (L) will make his Kiwis debut on Wednesday. Photo / Getty Images
Winger Bryson Goodwin (L) will make his Kiwis debut on Wednesday. Photo / Getty Images

Four of the New Zealand league team's seven newcomers will make their international debuts on Wednesday against Tonga in Rotorua.

Coach Stephen Kearney has named Newcastle centre Junior Sau, Bulldogs winger Bryson Goodwin and Sydney Roosters prop Frank-Paul Nuuausala in the starting line-up while Rotorua-born Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is included on the interchange bench.

Also named in the combination are two of the Kiwis' four players involved in the NRL grand final eight days ago. Premiership-winning Melbourne prop Jeff Lima is starting in the front row while his Storm teammate Adam Blair is on the bench.

"Tonga will give us exactly the opposition we're looking for as we start a new campaign. For us, nothing matters but this test at the moment," Kearney said.

"It's a good way to introduce four of our new boys to test football. The Tongans have plenty to look forward to with the Pacific Cup coming up and we'd expect them to make it a tough night for us."

The match is important in terms of the Kiwis' preparation for their campaign in the inaugural Four Nations in England and France and it also serves as a build-up for Tonga's bid in the Pacific Cup in Papua New Guinea.

The winner of that tournament will be the fourth side involved with the Kiwis, the Kangaroos and England in the 2010 Four Nations in this country and Australia. Other features of the selection for the test against Tonga are the pairing of Nathan Fien at halfback and captain Benji Marshall at standoff with Manly's Steve Matai recalled in the centres.

South Sydney's Issac Luke, who missed the Anzac test through suspension, returns as starting hooker while Wigan's Thomas Leuluai is on the bench.

Penrith back rower Frank Pritchard is returning after last playing for the Kiwis in the 2008 Centenary test against Australia.

- NZPA

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