Penrith's Isaac John has been plucked from reserve grade to play five-eighth for New Zealand in Friday's Anzac rugby league Test against Australia in Sydney.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney named his 17 to face the world champions at Allianz Stadium with John, who played NSW Cup for Penrith last weekend, named in the halves alongside Shaun Johnson.

Fellow debutant Ben Henry of the Warriors has been named at hooker.

New Zealand have been hit hard by injuries with playmakers Kieran Foran, Thomas Leuluai and Josh Hoffman all unavailable to fill the No.6 jersey and Rabbitohs rake Issac Luke out with a shoulder injury.


The Kiwis are rated rank outsiders for the match, a fact coach Stephen Kearney is well aware of.

"We've had a solid couple of days together, and all the lads have really impressed me with their enthusiasm and energy,'' Kearney said in a statement.

"We're under no illusions about the task ahead of us - the Aussies are a world champion side and we will have to be on top of our game to match them.

"But we have confidence in our talent, and there's definitely a spirit in this group that augurs well for this game and beyond.''

Kearney's call-up of John revives memories of Olsen Filipaina's legendary deeds for New Zealand.

The former Kiwi pivot was selected out of Sydney's reserve grade competition in 1983 and 1985 to inspire New Zealand to upset wins.

New Zealand: Peta Hiku, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Dean Whare, Gerard Beale, Jason Nightingale, Isaac John, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Ben Henry, Sam Moa, Simon Mannering (capt), Kevin Proctor, Adam Blair, Siliva Havili, Martin Taupau, Greg Eastwood, Tohu Harris, Kenny Bromwich (18th man).