Kiwis boss David Kidwell has punted on an inexperienced side to take on Samoa in Saturday's Rugby League World Cup opener against Samoa, naming four potential debutants in his projected matchday XVII.

Parramatta centre Brad Takairangi is set to make his Test debut in Auckland, slotting in for a crocked Dean Whare, who tweaked his ankle in training.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Isaac Liu and Danny Levi have all been named on the bench, while Addin Fonua-Blake is in the extended 21-man squad.

Kidwell made no apologies for punting on youth and inexperience, having lost a score of Kiwi regulars to injury, defection and unavailability.


He insisted the side's preparation - including a three-day bonding trip to Ngaruawahia - had more than compensated for a lack of Test caps.

They have also declined to play a pre-World Cup friendly, barring intra- training matches and a hit-out against local outfit Glenora Bears.

"Everyone's in there to make each other better, to make sure they're feeling part of it, playing their role - even though they're making their debuts, the boys trust that these guys are able to come in," Kidwell said.

"When their names got read out, after the team was finished, everyone in that room was excited for them (and) that's what I want."

The 28-year-old Takairangi will partner Gerard Beale in the centres, while Kidwell sprung a surprise by pairing Kodi Nikorima with Shaun Johnson in the halves.

Nikorima has earned the nod over an in-form Te Maire Martin, who drove his Cowboys outfit to the NRL grand final last month.

Kidwell put his decision down to Nikorima's winning mentality. Elsewhere, Marty Taupau has supplanted Wests Tigers recruit Russell Packer in the front row, partnering skipper Adam Blair.

Thomas Leuluai will pack down in the scrum between them. In the back row, Kidwell has been forced to resort to Joe Tapine and Kenny Bromwich after the losses of Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris and Jason Taumalolo.

"Giving young Joe a go on the right, we're very clear on his role - he's a big powerful lad so it's time to step into the big boys' shoes," Kidwell said.

"And Kenny on the left edge there, he's just come off winning a grand final (with Melbourne Storm) and he works hard."

There was no space in the projected XVII for Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Elijah Taylor or Jason Nightingale, despite all carrying plenty of Test nous.

Kiwis: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Gerard Beale, Brad Takairangi, Jordan Rapana Kodi Nikorima, Shaun Johnson, Martin Taupau, Thomas Leuluai, Adam Blair, Kenny Bromwich, Joseph Tapine, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Russell Packer, Isaac Liu, Danny Levi. Reserves: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Peta Hiku, Te Maire Martin, Addin Fonua-Blake.