Australia coach Mal Meninga says Johnathan Thurston could still take on New Zealand even if he is ruled unfit for North Queensland in the NRL this week.

Thurston was on Wednesday named in a 20-man Kangaroos squad to meet the Kiwis on Friday week despite missing the past two games for the Cowboys with a calf injury.

Melbourne's Will Chambers and the Wests Tigers' Aaron Woods fill the spots vacated by injured duo Greg Inglis and Matt Scott.

In the only unforced change, Canberra forward Josh Papalii replaces clubmate Shannon Boyd.


Thurston was included in an extended squad to face Parramatta on Friday, but he's no certainty play.

But Meninga is confident the long-time Kangaroos five-eighth will be fit to play in Canberra although James Maloney is on standby as 19th man.

"He doesn't have to play that game on the weekend. He's a pretty experienced player. Knowing John, he'll want to play in the Test match, if fully fit," Meninga said.

"He'll come into camp and through our protocols, he'll go through a medical and we'll make some decisions around him on the Sunday."

"It's one of the reasons James Maloney is named as 19th man as well, just in case."

Captain Cameron Smith will become just the second player to play 50 Tests for Australia and is behind only Darren Lockyer, who made 59 appearances.

Meninga said because of the short preparation for the match, it was important to remain loyal to the team which defeated the Kiwis in the Four Nations final last year.

"Not only do these players have established combinations with each other, but they are also well aware of our values," he said.

"However the State of Origin series and then the remainder of the NRL premiership will be major considerations when we look to name our squad for the World Cup later this year."

Australia squad for the Anzac test against New Zealand:

Darius Boyd, Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Will Chambers, Valentine Holmes, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Aaron Woods, Cameron Smith (capt), David Klemmer, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, Trent Merrin. Reserves: Michael Morgan, Josh Papalii, Tyson Frizell, Sam Thaiday. Shannon Boyd (18th man), James Maloney (19th man), Justin O'Neill (20th man).