League: Shaun Johnson has a message for the English

Shaun Johnson will start in the seven jersey on Sunday alongside Warriors teammate Thomas Leuluai. Photosport
Shaun Johnson will start in the seven jersey on Sunday alongside Warriors teammate Thomas Leuluai. Photosport

Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson had some fighting words ahead of the Four Nations opener against hosts England on Sunday morning NZT. Albeit briefly.

Johnson has told the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast show on Radio Sport that if any English players try and disrupt his game, 'they'll get one on the chin'. Johnson quickly revealed he was only joking.

"We've been building all week to play a certain way so that's what we want to go out and execute. And, look, if they want to muck around with that sort of stuff, especially if they want to try and pick on me then I'll get one on their chin and move on," Johnson said.

"Can I just take that back? I'm a halfback and I would never do that," he quickly added.

Listen: Shaun Johnson on the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast

Johnson will start in the seven jersey on Sunday alongside Warriors teammate Thomas Leuluai with coach David Kidwell keeping his faith with the team that suffered a 26-6 defeat by Australia in Perth.

Warriors centre Solomone Kata and Canberra winger Jordan Rapana retained their spots after making their Test debuts in Perth a fortnight ago..

"I'm really happy with how the boys have trained," said Kidwell, who will be taking charge of his second match.

Listen: Shaun Johnson full interview

"We understand the challenge that's ahead of us and we need to be at our best.

"In Perth, a lot of our guys hadn't played for a long period of time. The result wasn't what we wanted but all the players were better off for the run and we will look to build from that."

The return of Sydney Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has added a tough exterior to the Kiwis pack which Kidwell is hoping can contain an England side boosted by the return of Sam and George Burgess.

"It's no secret this game is going to be won up front," Kidwell added.

"Both teams have strong forward packs and we need our middle men to lead the way."

England's made four changes for the test in Huddersfield, with centre Mark Percival and prop Scott Taylor not required from the side that beat France easily last weekend.

Five-eighth Kevin Brown and utility Stefan Ratchford have also been discarded. Sam Burgess has been named for his first test in three years and first as captain after being suspended last weekend.

New Zealand squad: Jordan Kahu; Jason Nightingale, Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny- Dowall, Jordan Rapana; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Jesse Bromwich (capt), Issac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris, Jason Taumalolo. Bench: Lewis Brown, Martin Taupau, Manu Ma'u, Adam Blair.

England squad: John Bateman, George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Tom Burgess, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Liam Farrell, Luke Gale, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Jermaine McGillvary, Dan Sarginson, Kallum Watkins, Elliott Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams.

- With AAP

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