League trio to make debut for Kiwis

Three players will make their international rugby league debuts for New Zealand after being named in the side to face Australia in Townsville on Saturday.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney has handed first starts to Bulldogs prop Sam Kasiano, Sea Eagles centre Dean Whare and Storm second-rower Kevin Proctor after naming the 17 to tackle the Kangaroos.

The 133kg Kasiano was the subject of a tug-of-war between Queensland and New Zealand before opting to play for the country of his birth.

Wests Tigers forward Adam Blair, called into the 18-man squad after Jeremy Smith pulled out with injury, starts on the bench with Penrith’s Sam McKendry missing the cut.

The side features five players from beaten NRL finalists Canterbury and three from the Warriors.

Benji Marshall captains the side.

New Zealand: Josh Hoffman, Sam Perrett, Krisnan Inu, Dean Whare, Gerard Beale, Benji Marshall (capt), Kieran Foran, Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Kevin Proctor, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Elijah Taylor, Ben Matulino, Greg Eastwood, Adam Blair.

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