Veteran halves Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran are among 27 players named in a wider Kiwis squad for the inaugural Oceania Cup test against Mate Ma'a Tonga in Auckland next Saturday.

The last of the 34-year-old Marshall's 27 tests was in 2012 when he captained the Kiwis in a 10-18 loss to the Kangaroos in Townsville.

Benji Marshall has been included in the wider Kiwi squad. Photo / Getty
Benji Marshall has been included in the wider Kiwi squad. Photo / Getty

Foran, 28, last played at international level in the 2017 Anzac Test in Canberra, his 21st outing for the national team.

Another feature of the extended squad is the inclusion of Tauranga-born Sharks second-rower Briton Nikora, who made his NRL debut in the opening round this season.


The only other three players named who are yet to make their test debuts for the Kiwis are Wellington-born Storm fullback Jahrome Hughes, Tokoroa-born Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano and Tonga-born Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi.

Kieran Foran has played 21 tests for the Kiwis. Photo / Getty
Kieran Foran has played 21 tests for the Kiwis. Photo / Getty

Hughes and Paasi were in the Kiwis' end-of-season touring squad last year but didn't appear in a test while Tetevano, who has played at international level for the Cook Islands, was originally selected for the campaign before being ruled out by injury.

"We're really pleased with the quality and form of the players we've been able to select," said head coach Michael Maguire.

"Nearly all of them have come through the test we had against England in Denver last year and the matches against Australia and England later in the year. As a group, we made a lot of progress and now it's all about building on that.

"This test against Tonga at Mount Smart is going to be a huge occasion and we can't wait to be part of it.

"It kicks off what is a tremendous year for the international game with the introduction of the Oceania Cup competition, the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines and our series against the Great Britain Rugby League Lions."

In all 22 of the 27 players named in the Kiwis' wider squad on Thursday night were involved in last year's campaigns; the exceptions are Marshall, Foran, Tetevano, Nikora and Warriors captain and 2018 Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

NRL competition leader Melbourne provides five players in the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny, front-rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona, hooker Brandon Smith and Hughes while there are seven Warriors in fullback Tuivasa-Sheck, wing Ken Maumalo, halfback Kodi Nikorima, prop Leeson Ah Mau, hooker Issac Luke, second-rower Isaiah Papali'i and Paasi.


The Sydney Roosters boast four players in Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, centre Joseph Manu, back-rower Isaac Liu and Tetevano.

The final 19-man test squad will be announced on Sunday.