Sydney Roosters wing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been named in the 19-strong Kiwis' squad and could make his international debut in the Anzac test against Australia in Canberra on Friday night.
The 19-year-old is the only possible debutant in the side named by coach Steve Kearney and the youngster has been in dangerous form for the Roosters this year, including scoring a hat-trick against the Parramatta Eels in round four.
Tuivasa-Sheck's Roosters' teammate Sonny Bill Williams has been ruled out with a knee injury and the Tigers' Benji Marshall is out with a toe problem.
Williams aggravated a right knee problem in his team's 38-0 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs on Friday night and received an injection, which means he won't be able to train or play for at least seven days.
The Kiwis said the Roosters' medical staff had discussed the problem with the New Zealand medical team headed by Dr Simon Mayhew.
Alex Glenn, Simon Mannering, Kevin Proctor, Frank Pritchard and Jeremy Smith are the likely contenders to help make up the back row with Williams out.
Warriors' halfback Shaun Johnson will partner Manly's Kieran Foran in the halves because of Marshall's absence, while there was no space for Thomas Leuluai.
Tuivasa-Sheck has handled first grade with such composure this year that his selection won't surprise many. He first came to the attention of Kiwi league fans when captaining Otahuhu College to win the NZRL's national secondary schools tournament in 2011. He played for the Junior Kiwis last year.
"Roger has been on our radar for a while," says Kearney. "He's a Kiwi with a very bright future."
Tuivasa-Sheck will have club mates Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to keep him company this week. All three have been in fine touch in a slick Roosters outfit.
Mannering is the most experienced player in the squad with 30 tests and will captain his country for the first time. He'll be joined by fellow Warriors players Shaun Johnson, Ben Matulino and Elijah Taylor.
Players who missed the Kiwis squad for the Townsville test but have returned to the fold are Alex Glenn, Kenny-Dowall, Jason Nightingale, Jeremy Smith and Waerea-Hargreaves. The Kiwis should know today whether Smith will face judicial charges over a tackle in his Newcastle Knights match against Penrith on Saturday night.
With the Rugby League World Cup starting in October, the Kiwis will be looking for a polished performance against their greatest rivals. The Kangaroos won 18-10 in Townsville when the teams last met. The Kiwis assemble today in Canberra.
Kiwis: Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), Shaun Johnson (Warriors), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (Warriors), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Sam Perrett (Canterbury Bulldogs), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury Bulldogs), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Jeremy Smith (Newcastle Knights), Elijah Taylor (Warriors), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)