Seven new faces have today been named in the 23-man squad for the Kiwis' one-off Test against Tonga next week and the inaugural Four Nations in England and France.
Coach Stephen Kearney said the 2013 World Cup was a key factor in the selectors' decision to choose first-time Kiwis Kieran Foran (Manly), Bryson Goodwin (Bulldogs), Kevin Locke (Warriors), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters), Junior Sau (Newcastle) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Manly).
"It's hugely exciting to be able to pick so many young players who have so much potential to play a big part in the Kiwis' future," said Kearney.
"They've all made a real impact in the NRL this year with all but one of them having had a taste of finals football either this season or last season.
"We don't have the benefit of tour matches these days so it's important we ensure we are always developing our future test players."
Foran, Locke and Waerea-Hargreaves made their NRL debuts this year, Matulino and Sau made theirs last year and Goodwin and Nuuausala first appeared at first-grade level in 2007.
Auckland-born Stand-off halfback Foran (19) scored six tries in nine NRL appearances for the Sea Eagles this year while 110kg Rotorua-born back rower Waerea-Hargreaves (20) was used six times at top level by Manly.
Locke (20) played 12 times on the wing by the Warriors while Auckland-born Sau (22) appeared in all 25 of Newcastle's games this year and has now played 37 NRL matches in all. Matulino has 33 NRL appearances across the past two seasons and Aucklander Nuuausala boosted his career tally to 38 by playing all 24 of the Roosters' games this year.
Winger Goodwin (23) is one of St George legend Ted Goodwin's three sons who have all played NRL football (Goodwin senior played for the Kangaroos in 1972-73). Goodwin junior had played only nine NRL games previously but in his first season with the Bulldogs this year he was one of the competition's leading try-scorers with 20 tries in 24 games. Born in Australia, he qualifies for the Kiwis through his Maori grand mother and has also played for New Zealand Maori.
Of the squad used in last year's successful World Cup campaign, 12 are in this Four Nations touring party while utility Iosia Soliola was an original World Cup selection.
Among the players recalled are second rower Frank Pritchard, who last played for the Kiwis in the Australian Rugby League's 2008 Centenary Test but missed the World Cup and this year's Anzac Test through injury.
Prop Fuifui Moimoi made his Kiwi debut in 2007 and returns after a two-year absence on the back of his compelling form for beaten NRL grand finalists the Parramatta Eels.
Grand final-winning Melbourne forwards Adam Blair and Jeff Lima are both in the squad as is centre Krisnan Inu from the beaten Parramatta side. Blair and Lima both played in this year's Anzac Test but Inu didn't.
Also back after missing the Anzac Test is Manly centre Steve Matai while Benji Marshall is again captain after leading the Kiwis once during the World Cup and again in the May international against the Kangaroos.
The Kiwis will be in camp for 10-days, starting in Auckland on Wednesday before moving to Rotorua on Saturday to prepare for their one-off Test against Tonga in Rotorua on October 14.
They fly out for England on October 16 ahead of their opening Four Nations match against Australia at The Twickenham Stoop on October 24.
Adam Blair (Melbourne Storm)
Greg Eastwood (Bulldogs)
Nathan Fien (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles)
Bryson Goodwin (Bulldogs)
Bronson Harrison (Canberra Raiders)
Lance Hohaia (NZ Warriors)
Krisnan Inu (Parramatta Eels)
Thomas Leuluai (Wigan Warriors)
Jeff Lima (Melbourne Storm)
Kevin Locke (NZ Warriors)
Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers)
Steve Matai (Manly Sea Eagles)
Ben Matulino (NZ Warriors)
Fuifui Moimoi (Parramatta Eels)
Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters)
Sam Perrett (Sydney Roosters)
Frank Pritchard (Penrith Panthers)
Junior Sau (Newcastle Knights)
Iosia Soliola (Sydney Roosters)
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Manly Sea Eagles)
Sourced from: The New Zealand HeraldReuse content