How New Zealand could line-up at the Rugby League World Cup

Drew Darbyshire
New Zealand World Cup line-up

We’re creating how each nation could line-up ahead of the World Cup, in collaboration with He Can Play For. This week, it’s New Zealand!

In these weekly feature pieces, we are selecting our predicted side who can represent New Zealand. This can include players born in that country, with heritage to the nation or even residency.

The first 12 were France, Jamaica, Cook Islands, Fiji, Ireland, Wales, Papua New Guinea, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Scotland and England. Now it is time for New Zealand

How New Zealand could line-up at the World Cup:

1. Joey Manu

Joey Manu New Zealand PA

Manu will be one of the ones to watch in the World Cup. The Sydney Roosters star has played most of his career at centre, but shone in New Zealand’s recent win over Tonga at full-back. He is an exceptional talent.

2. Ronaldo Mulitalo

Ronaldo Mulitalo New Zealand PA

The Cronulla Sharks winger actually made his international debut for Samoa in 2019, qualifying through heritage. He then played for the USA in the Nines World Cup later that year, with his mother’s family hailing from American Samoa.

In 2022, Auckland-born Mulitalo made his New Zealand debut in their mid-season win over Tonga. International rules state that a player can’t switch allegiances in the same year, which confirms he will play for the Kiwis in the World Cup.

3. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad Canberra Raiders PA

Nicoll-Klokstad is primarily a full-back, but he is simply too good to be left out of the line-up. He made his international debut for the Cook Islands in 2015 before switching allegiances to birth nation for New Zealand in 2019.

4. Marata Niukore

Marata Niukore PA

Niukore has been superb for the Eels this season. Niukore played three games for the Cook Islands between 2017-19 before switching allegiances to New Zealand in 2022.

5. Jordan Rapana

Jordan Rapana New Zealand PA

The 32-year-old played for the Cook Islands in the 2013 World Cup before switching allegiances to birth nation New Zealand in 2015, where he has since won 11 caps. He has been one of the NRL’s best wingers for some time now.

6. Dylan Brown

Dylan Brown New Zealand PA

Auckland-born Brown is a standout half-back in the NRL. He has already played more than 70 games for the Eels despite being just 22 years of age. He made his debut for the Kiwis earlier this year.

7. Jahrome Hughes

Jahrome Hughes New Zealand PA

Hughes has been one of Melbourne’s key players for a couple of years now. He was born in Wellington and is of Maori and Welsh heritage. He will be hoping to play in his first World Cup this year.

8. Jesse Bromwich

Jesse Bromwich New Zealand PA

Bromwich is one of the most experienced players in this line-up. He has played almost 300 games for Melbourne and is a three-time NRL Grand Final winner. He has won 29 caps for the Kiwis and was part of the side that reached the World Cup final in 2013.

9. Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith New Zealand PA

The Waiheke Island-born hooker is one of the game’s best right now. Smith has played more than 100 games for Melbourne, helping them win the NRL Premiership in 2020. He is of Norwegian and Maori descent.

10. James Fisher-Harris

James Fisher-Harris New Zealand PA

The Kohukohu-born powerhouse is one of the most of the best front-rowers in the world. He has made more than 150 appearances for Penrith and has won seven caps for his country so far.

11. Kenny Bromwich

Jesse and Kenny Bromwich New Zealand PA

The 30-year-old, like his brother Jesse, is another one of the most experienced players in this line-up. He has played more than 200 games for Melbourne and won 10 caps for the Kiwis.

12. Isaiah Papali’i

Isaiah Papali'i Parramatta Eels PA

The Auckland-born powerhouse made his international debut for Samoa in 2018 before switching allegiances to his birth nation later that year. Papali’i has been in sensational form for the Eels this season.

13. Joe Tapine

Joe Tapine New Zealand 2017 PA

Tapine will be hoping to play in his second World Cup this autumn, having already won 11 caps. He has also represented the Maori All Stars. The 28-year-old has developed a reputation for having a tremendous work ethic whilst playing for Canberra.


14. Kieran Foran

Kieran Foran Manly Sea Eagles PA

The 32-year-old will go down as a Kiwi legend when he hangs up his boots, but he still has plenty to offer to his country, having won 22 caps. Auckland-born Foran, who played in the 2013 World Cup final, has made more than 250 NRL appearances.

15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona

Nelson Asofa-Solomona New Zealand Kiwis PA

Asofa-Solomona was born in Wellington and his parents are of Maori, Samoan, Tokelau and Irish heritage.

The 6ft 7in, 19 stone front-rower will no doubt make a huge impact when coming off the bench for Michael Maguire’s side. It will be his second World Cup tournament this year.

16. Moses Leota

Moses Leota New Zealand PA

The Penrith Panthers bulldozer made his international debut in 2019 with Samoa and he represented his Samoan heritage in the Nines World Cup that year. Leota switched allegiances to birth nation New Zealand ahead of this year’s mid-season test against Tonga.

17. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Sydney Roosters PA

Waerea-Hargreaves is a veteran front-rower who has done it all in the game. The 33-year-old has won three NRL Grand Finals with the Roosters. He has won 32 caps for his country and will be hoping to play in his third World Cup this autumn.

Thanks to He Can Play For for their collaboration, you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

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