Adam Blair will achieve the rare honour of playing 50 Tests while Kieran Foran will make his first international appearance in more than two years when the New Zealand Kiwis meet the Great Britain Lions in the first Test at Eden Park on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off).
Veteran Northland-born and raised Blair (33) will become only the ninth player in history – and just the second New Zealander after Ruben Wiki – to reach the 50-Test milestone.
Blair seemed set to be stranded on 48 Tests after missing selection for the mid-year clash against Mate Ma’a Tonga and initially being overlooked for the end-of-season internationals against the Kangaroos and the Lions.
However, the 311-game NRL forward came into the squad as an injury replacement for the World Cup 9s in Sydney and earned a Test recall for the Oceania Cup match against the Kangaroos in Wollongong last Friday night.
Canterbury-Bankstown play maker Foran (29) returns to the Test stage for the first time since May, 2017, partnering captain Benji Marshall in the halves. Replacing Shaun Johnson, he will be making his 22nd appearance for the Kiwis since his debut 10 years ago.
In other changes to the side which lost 4-26 to Australia, Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire has moved Sydney Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano into the starting front row after he made his debut from the bench last Friday night. Vodafone Warriors prop Leeson Ah Mau is switched to the bench.
Canberra back rower Joseph Tapine, who served a one-game suspension last week, is recalled to start at loose forward in his 11th Test with Blair now on the bench and Braden Hamlin-Uele, one of four debutants against Australia, moving out of the squad. Melbourne utility Jahrome Hughes and Canterbury-Bankstown back rower Corey Harawira-Naera complete the interchange.
This Saturday’s match will be the Kiwis’ first against the Great Britain Lions since a three-Test series in England in 2007.
It will be the second leg of an international triple header at Eden Park. It kicks off with a second-tier Oceania Cup match between Toa Samoa and Fiji Bati (2.20pm kick-off) with the Kiwis v Great Britain encounter followed by the Kangaroos taking on Tonga International (7.40pm kick-off). The Tongans come into the match after stunning the Lions 14-6 in Hamilton last Saturday.
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50 TEST APPEARANCES
(in chronological order)
Jim Sullivan (Wales, England, Great Britain) 1921-1934 | 54 internationals
Mick Sullivan (England, Great Britain) 1954-1962 | 50 internationals
Ruben Wiki (New Zealand) 1994-2006 | 55 internationals
Adrian Morley (England, Great Britain) 1996-2012 | 53 internationals
Darren Lockyer (Australia) 1997-2011 | 59 internationals
Petero Civoniceva (Australia, Fiji) 2001-2014 | 51 internationals
Cameron Smith (Australia) 2006-2017 | 56 internationals
James Graham (Great Britain, England) 2006-2019 | 50 internationals
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v GREAT BRITAIN LIONS
5.00pm, Saturday, November 2, 2019
Eden Park, Auckland
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS
(Gold Coast Titans)
HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE