The Kiwis will be without a captain for the midseason test against England in Denver but senior forward Adam Blair will be the side's unofficial leader.

New Kiwis coach Michael Maguire has decided not to appoint a captain for the June 23 match at Mile High Stadium, but has called on the Warriors forward to provide leadership for what is shaping as being a Kiwis development squad, with several big name players retiring from international football and unavailable through injury.

Maguire, who takes the reins for his first test since taking over from former coach David Kidwell, is keen to take a wait-and-see approach to who will be the side's captain going-forward, ahead of the October test against Australia and the end of year tour of England and France.

Blair is the incumbent captain after leading the Kiwis through last year's failed World Cup campaign and will again lead the side out on to the field and be the man appointed to talk to the match referee during the game.


"I've had a really good discussion with Blairy and we both felt that we want leadership across the team to lift," explained Maguire.

"So we're not going to put a 'c' against the name but everyone is a part of where we're going and there's going to be a new generation of kids coming into the team. This is an opportunity for me to be able to see this group and who comes in and really wants to grab those leadership type roles.

"So it allows Blairy to be really ingrained in the group. He'll lead the team out and across the board, but we're not going to have a captain as such because I want to see the strength of who wants to step up and take the jersey forward."

Newly appointed head coach of the New Zealand Kiwis, Michael Maguire. Photo / Getty Images
Newly appointed head coach of the New Zealand Kiwis, Michael Maguire. Photo / Getty Images

Blair's appointment comes after former Kiwis captain Simon Mannering and former New Zealand front-row pair, Russell Packer and Ben Matulino, today announced their retirement from test football.

"He's always been a leader," Maguire said.

"That's really the expectations you have of a player of his character. He's a player who turns up and is professional in how he goes about things on and off the field.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Adam and other players in the team build towards where we want to go.

"I've met a lot of the players across here and in Australia and there are some really strong characters that can take the jersey forward and I want to see those guys have that opportunity now and take that.


"The captaincy will sort itself out in time. When we decide to actually do that, I'll obviously see that by how the players work forward."

Former Kiwis captain Benji Marshall was a leading contender to captain the side but a calf injury is set to prevent the veteran Wests Tigers playmaker from being available.

"I've had contact with Benji and I'd say it would be a couple of weeks that he'll be out so we'll have to wait and see but as far as I've been told he won't be playing which is a shame," said Maguire.

Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is another potential Kiwis skipper in the long-term, but his availability for the Denver test is also under a cloud.

The 25-year-old fullback is expected to play for the Warriors in Friday's away game against North Queensland in Townsville, after missing Saturday's 34-14 win over Manly in Christchurch with an ankle injury.

Whether he plays and how he pulls up from the match against the Cowboys will determine whether he is available for test duty.

The Kiwis will also be further down on forward stocks with front-rower Jesse Bromwich's hopes of winning a test recall gone, after the Melbourne prop sustained a hamstring injury in the Storm's 32-16 NRL win over Brisbane on Sunday.

In the absence of such experienced campaigners, Blair's experience will be vital in guiding a young Kiwis side through against a formidable England team.

Maguire will reveal his squad for the historic test in the US on Sunday.

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