Warriors centre Solomone Kata, 22, won't be available for the Kiwis at the Rugby League World Cup. Kata, who played five tests for the Kiwis last year, has declared his allegiance to Tonga for the tournament.

That wouldn't have been possible under the old international eligibility rules - which allowed just one change per four-year cycle - but the revised rules make it possible.

Kata said it was a relatively simple decision.

"I want to play for Tonga - I just know that is what I want to do," Kata told the Herald on Sunday.


"I want to play a World Cup for my country, to represent my family. After that, we will see what happens, but that's want I want to do now."

Kata was a mainstay of the Kiwis last year, one of the few members of the backline who played every test of coach David Kidwell's reign.

His form this year hasn't matched the past two seasons, when he was one of the most promising centres in the NRL, but he would still have been in the Kiwis' mix in a position where they are not over endowed with options.

On past deeds, Dean Whare is an automatic selection but indications are that Jordan Kahu may need surgery at the end of Brisbane's NRL campaign, while Shaun Kenny-Dowall has had a difficult season on and off the pitch. David Fusitu'a played the second half of the season on the wing and Peta Hiku has been in SuperLeague with Warrington.

Like Kata, fellow centre Konrad Hurrell, who was recently named in the Rugby League Players' Association Dream Team after a strong season with the Titans, is also likely to stick with Mate Tonga. Hurrell has never played for the Kiwis - until this year, his form hadn't warranted selection - but his hard-running style has turned a few heads in 2017. He averaged 137 running metres per game, as well as nine tries and nine line breaks from 16 games.

"My gut feel is that Konrad would prefer to play for Tonga," said Tonga coach Kristian Woolf. "That's where I think he will be at. He is very passionate about it and it has certainly been a stance of his before. He is born and bred and very proud of that. All the conversations I've had is that he is preparing to play for Tonga."

Fusitu'a has yet to declare his allegiance, while Tui Lolohea is another with a foot in both camps. He played for the Kiwis in 2015 under Stephen Kearney, but has also represented Tonga in the Pacific tests in 2015 and 2017.