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Centre Jordan Kahu, scrum half Tuimoala Lolohea, forward Siosiua Takieaho and utility Kodi Nikorima are in line to earn their first test caps for the New Zealand Kiwis against England at Hull’s KC Stadium on Sunday.
The quartet debuted for their country against Leeds Rhinos last week and head coach Stephen Kearney has stuck with the group that defeated the champion English Club Champions for the opening encounter of the three-test series.
“The purpose of last week’s exercise was to give a run to some guys that hadn’t played in a while,” says Kearney.
“It was a matter of building that consistency, that’s why they’ve got the opportunity again this week.”
Kahu (groin) and co-captain Adam Blair (calf) both left the Leeds encounter with injuries, but have recovered sufficiently to be included in the extended 19-man test squad. The starting line-up will be finalised shortly before kick-off.
Blair’s calf strain has probably caused the most concern through the past week and he has been carefully managed by the Kiwis medical team.
“That’s still an ongoing exercise and we’ll make a call on Adam as late astomorrow,” says Kearney. “If he’s unable to take the field, we’ve got some pretty handy replacements.
“Hopefully, for Adam, he will get the chance to skipper the team with Issac Luke.”
The squad for Sunday’s opening test against England, to be shown live on SKY Sport 2 at 5.30am Monday NZ, is:
- Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
- Jason Nightingale
- Jordan Kahu
- Dean Whare
- Shaun Kenny-Dowall
- Peta Hiku
- Tuimoala Lolohea
- Jesse Bromwich
- Issac Luke
- Sam Moa
- Kevin Proctor
- Tohu Harris
- Adam Blair
- Kodi Nikorima
- Martin Taupau
- Ben Matulino
- Siosiua Takeiaho
- Alex Glenn
- Lewis Brown