The Kiwis will be without former captain Simon Mannering for Saturday's transtasman test against Australia in Perth as he continues his recovery from minor knee surgery.
Mannering had a clean-out operation on his knee last month and has remained in Auckland while the rest of the Kiwis 24-man squad gathers in the Western Australia capital ahead of the Nib Stadium clash against the Kangaroos.
A Kiwis spokesman said the 30-year-old Warriors forward had been given an extra week to get his body right and will link up with the squad when they reassemble in Auckland next Wednesday before flying out to the UK to begin their Four Nations defence.
Melbourne Storm back-rower Kevin Proctor is the only other player still to join the squad and is expected to arrive in camp tomorrow.
The absence of Mannering, the Kiwis most experienced player with 41 test appearances, is a blow to new coach David Kidwell's plans of avenging the side's 16-0 loss to Australia in the Anzac test in Newcastle in May.
Mannering missed last year's two-one series loss to England with illness and this year's Anzac test with injury, with Storm front-rower Jesse Bromwich getting his first run as captain in the Hunter Stadium defeat under former coach Stephen Kearney.
Kidwell opted to retain Bromwich as skipper for this week's one-off test and the subsequent Four Nations campaign.
Incumbent fullback Jordan Kahu said the side were a united group under Bromwich but believes Mannering will still play a big role among the side's leadership group.
"Once he does come into camp he'll have a massive leadership role as well," said Kahu.
"Obviously he (Bromwich) was captain in the Anzac test and Jesse carries himself really well and a lot of boys look up to him.
"Everyone's behind him 100 per cent so I'm sure he'll lead the way for us."
The Kiwis had a light run yesterday and have their first full day of training today in cool conditions in Perth.
The team will arrive back in New Zealand on Sunday and have three days break before re-entering camp in Auckland.
The Kiwis open their Four Nations campaign against hosts England on October 30 (NZT) at Huddersfield, before games against Australia on November 6 and Scotland on November 12.