Vodafone Warriors Manu Vatuvei and Suaia Matagi are among just three changes made to the Kiwis’ line-up for Saturday’s Four Nations clash against Toa Samoa at Toll Stadium in Whangarei (4.00pm kick-off NZT).
Vatuvei was omitted from the Kiwis’ opening match against the Kangaroos in Brisbane last Saturday night but has now been called into the side in the only backline change to face the Samoans.
The giant winger will make his 25th Test appearance. The prolific try-scorer not only has 135 tries in 194 NRL matches but also 17 in his 24 Tests so far, leaving him just behind the Kiwis’ all-time record of 19 held by Nigel Vagana. In the Kiwis’ opening match against Toa Samoa at the World Cup last year, Vatuvei snared a hat-trick in a 42-24 win.
Playing for the Samoans and scoring a try that night was Matagi. Named as the Kiwis’ 18th man in Brisbane last weekend, Matagi has now been promoted to the playing 17 to make his Kiwi debut against Toa Samoa.
In the only other change to the side that punished Australia 30-12, Issac Luke returns from suspension to start at hooker.
Dropping out of the combination used against the Kangaroos are Gerard Beale, Thomas Leuluai and Greg Eastwood while Wests Tigers forward Bodene Thompson has been named 18th man. The others not selected are Josh Hoffman, Sosaia Feki and Siliva Havili.
The Samoans pushed England all the way last Saturday before losing 26-32.
KIWIS | 1 Peta Hiku; 2 Jason Nightingale, 3 Dean Whare, 4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 5 Manu Vatuvei; 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Shaun Johnson; 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Adam Blair; 11 Simon Mannering (c), 12 Kevin Proctor; 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Lewis Brown, 15 Suaia Matagi, 16 Martin Taupau, 17 Tohu Harris, 18 Bodene Thompson.