Kiwis name team for Kangaroo clash

Former Wigan halfback Tommy Leuluai will start at hooker for New Zealand when they face Australia in Brisbane this Saturday.

Powerful forward Jason Taumalolo and teenage wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak are also included in the starting line-up for the first time.

Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson will link up in the halves for coach Stephen Kearney’s side.

Although named as a starter, Watene-Zelezniak’s inclusion does depend on him passing a fitness test after injuring his foot earlier in the week.

The player’s great-grandfather, Steve Watene, is a former Kiwi skipper after whom the New Zealand Player of the Year award is named.

“Dallin is an exciting young prospect, who we think will play many tests for the Kiwis in the future,” said Kearney.

“He’s brought a lot of youthful energy to the camp this week, but we’ll have to wait and see how his foot mends up.”

Taumalolo is included for the first time as a starter,  after being a non-playing member of the squad at the 2012 Anzac Test.

“His performances over the past year, but particularly over the last two months of the NRL, have been very consistent,” Kearney added.

“Jason’s always been there or thereabouts. He had an opportunity to get picked for the Anzac Test before he injured a shoulder and he’s also been a Junior Kiwi.

“I feel like this group has a good balance about it and we’ve certainly trained very well over the last couple of days, so you can feel the combinations starting to come together.”

NEW ZEALAND TEAM TO FACE AUSTRALIA:

1 Peta Hiku, 2 Jason Nightingale, 3 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Thomas Leuluai, 10 Adam Blair, 11 Simon Mannering (captain), 12 Kevin Proctor, 13 Jason Taumalolo

Interchange:

14 Lewis Brown, 15 Greg Eastwood, 16 Martin Taupau, 17 Tohu Harris, 18 Suaia Matagi

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