It means a debut for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the NRL Winger of the Year, ahead of Jason Nightingale while former Hull prop Sam Moa, fresh from his exploits with Grand Final winning Sydney Roosters, is also selected for a first cap.
Kearney said: “I looked first at who we were playing. I think this Kiwis side is the best one for us, at this time, against this opposition.
“It’s a matter of giving Roger an opportunity. There’s a real depth of talent on the wings and I’m very mindful of making sure we’re keeping everyone with their hands on the footy. Jason Nightingale had a game last week (against the Cook Islands) and played really well. But it’s a great opportunity for Roger. He’s going to have the rest of his Roosters boys in the group and that will certainly help him.”
In total there are five Roosters players in Kearney’s 19-man squad.
Former Wigan half-back Thomas Leuluai is missing with a groin complaint, and wasn’t considered for selection.
Squad: Josh Hoffman (Brisbane), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney), Dean Whare (Penrith), Bryson Goodwin (Souths), Manu Vatuvei (NZ Warriors), Kieran Foran (Manly), Shaun Johnson (NZ Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney), Isaac Luke (Souths), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury), Sonny Bill Williams (Sydney), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors). Interchanges (from): Elijah Taylor (NZ Warriors), Sam Kasiano (Canterbury), Sam Moa (Sydney), Frank-Paul Nu’uausala (Sydney), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury), Ben Matulino (NZ Warriors).