Kevin Proctor wants to help lead New Zealand back to the top of the rugby league world after winning a Kiwis test recall he feared would never come.

The 29-year-old second-rower is set to return for the Kiwis in Saturday's trans-Tasman test against Australia at Mt Smart Stadium after an exile that began nearly 18 months ago.

Proctor and former Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich were both banned from playing in the World Cup after the pair were caught using cocaine following the Anzac test defeat in Canberra last May.

The fallout saw the Gold Coast forward stripped of the Titans co-captaincy and handed a four match suspension while his chances of ever playing for the Kiwis again appeared unlikely.


Proctor is grateful after new coach Michael Maguire last week threw him a Kiwis lifeline and hopes to make amends by helping the understrength side end a five match losing streak against the world champions.

"I'm stoked to be back in the black and white jersey," said Proctor.

"I didn't think it was going to come again to be honest but I'm really grateful for the opportunity I've got.

"It obviously means a lot to be able to right my wrongs because I left on such a sour note last time.

"I let everyone down, my family, the whole of New Zealand, so it's good to get the opportunity and I'm very grateful to be back."

Happy days: Recalled forward Kevin Proctor is set to play his first test for the Kiwis in almost 18 months. Photo / Photosport
Happy days: Recalled forward Kevin Proctor is set to play his first test for the Kiwis in almost 18 months. Photo / Photosport

The episode was one of the toughest periods of Proctor's life as he struggled with the intense media scrutiny and the impact it had on his family and loved ones.

Having come out the other side he admits the tough lessons learned have changed him for the better.

"One hundred per cent. I think it would change anyone if they were put in that position," he said.

"I let a lot of people down and I definitely learned my lesson from that and I won't get myself in those situations again."

Proctor hopes he can help the new-look Kiwis as they continue to rebuild from last year's disappointing World Cup campaign that ended prematurely following consecutive defeats to Tonga and Fiji.

Having played 17 tests since debuting for the Kiwis in 2012, the Te Kuiti product is among a handful of players that know what success looks like at international level.

The 2012 Melbourne premiership winner was part of the Kiwis during their three-test winning run over the Kangaroos in their 2014 Four Nations triumph and 2015 Anzac test victory.

"I've had experience where we've been the number one team in the world so hopefully we can get the Kiwis on the right track to get back to that position," he said.

"We were there in 2014 and had a really successful campaign and then we beat Aussie in a couple of the one-off tests which we hadn't done in the last 20 years or so.

"So I'll try and use that experience to help lead some of these younger guys coming through and hopefully in the right direction for us to go back to that number one spot."

With the Kangaroos also going through a rebuilding phase following the international retirements of several star players, Proctor believes the time is right for the Kiwis to strike back.

"Australia never field a weak side but they've got no Cam (Smith), no Billy (Slater), no (Cooper) Cronk, and no (Johnathan) Thurston.

"I'm hoping the guys that replaced them aren't as cohesive and as good as them coming into this game but they've got some class players there so it's always going to be a tough match.

"If you're going to get them at any time this is probably the best time because they haven't really played together. But they've got class players everywhere and you can't doubt them for a second."