Four of the Vodafone Warriors seven representatives have been included in a 19-man squad for the Kiwis opening Rugby League World Cup match against Toa Samoa at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington on Monday morning NZT (live coverage starting on SKY Sport 2 at 6.45).
After leading the Kiwis for the first time in the warm-up win against the Cook Islands, Vodafone Warriors captain Simon will make his first appearance as a Test skipper.
Mannering has been named to start at loose forward in his 31st Test with Manu Vatuvei starting on the left wing in his 21st international and halfback Shaun Johnson is at halfback for his third Test. Utility Elijah Taylor is named in jersey No 14 while prop Ben Matulino is in the 19-man squad but is listed as 19th man. Thomas Leuluai wasnt considered due to his niggling groin injury.
The Kiwis five NRL premiership-winning Sydney Roosters players have all been named with Sonny Bill Williams in the second row for his eighth Test for the Kiwis and his first since 2008. Team-mates Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sam Moa are set to make their Test debuts.
Dean Whare and Bryson Goodwin have been chosen in the centres, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Jesse Bromwich are the starting props with Williams, Frank Pritchard and Mannering in the back row.
The Kiwis prepared for this match by beating the Cook Islands 50-0 while Toa Samoa was trounced 52-16 by the England Knights. The Samoans have confirmed a list of 19 players for the match but havent revealed a line-up. Vodafone Warriors Pita Godinet and Suaia Matagi are both included.
Of the Kiwis 24 players, the five not in the 19-man squad are Kevin Locke, Jason Nightingale, Krisnan Inu, Alex Glenn and Leuluai.
Theres a real depth of talent on the wings and Im very mindful of making sure were keeping everyone with their hands on the footy, said Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney.
Jason (Nightingale) had a game last week (against the Cook Islands) and played really well. But its a great opportunity for Roger. Hes going to have the rest of his Roosters boys in the group and that will certainly help him.
The returning Williams has a strong link with coach Kearney. He debuted for the Kiwis as an 18-year-old in 2004 in what was Kearneys final Test.
Sonny brings a sense of confidence to people around him, said Kearney.
He puts his hand up and he delivers. He has such talent, but he understands that his main role is defence and hes got to get down and get dirty sometimes.
Kearney said Goodwin had earned his start.
Bryson has had a wonderful year with South Sydney and he played well when I brought him on in the second half last week, said Kearney.
Dean has played very strongly in his two Tests for the Kiwis and he knows how to get the job done but Krisnan will get another opportunity shortly.
The squads are (official Kiwi number and number of Tests listed for New Zealand players):
1 JOSH HOFFMAN (Brisbane Broncos), 773, 3
2 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (Sydney Roosters), 0, 0
3 DEAN WHARE (Penrith Panthers), 776, 2
4 BRYSON GOODWIN (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 752, 4
5 MANU VATUVEI (Vodafone Warriors), 720, 20
6 KIERAN FORAN (Manly Sea Eagles), vice-captain, 757, 9
7 SHAUN JOHNSON (Vodafone Warriors), 774, 2
8 JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters), 755, 12
9 ISSAC LUKE (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 749, 23
10 JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm), 775, 3
11 FRANK PRITCHARD (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 718, 24
12 SONNY BILL WILLIAMS (Sydney Roosters), 706, 7
13 SIMON MANNERING (Vodafone Warriors), captain, 731, 30
14 ELIJAH TAYLOR (Vodafone Warriors), 770, 4
15 SAM KASIANO (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 777, 1
16 SAM MOA (Sydney Roosters), 0, 0
17 FRANK-PAUL NUUAUSALA (Sydney Roosters), 754, 9
18 GREG EASTWOOD (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 737, 18
19 BEN MATULINO (Vodafone Warriors), 756, 14
LEESON AH MAU