Leuluai to Face Kumuls

Under-fire Wigan scrum-half Thomas Leuluai has kept his place in the New Zealand side for Saturday's World Cup pool A match against Papua New Guinea on the Gold Coast.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney sprang to the defence of the former Auckland Warriors and London Broncos player after he was criticised in Australia for his role in his side's crushing 30-6 defeat by Australia last Sunday.

"I don't think Thomas was out there by himself," said Kearney.

"We had 17 guys trying to do the same thing in terms of helping the side go forward. I don't think Thomas is to blame for that."

Kearney has made three changes, however, two of them forced, in recalling three-quarter Krisnan Inu, hooker Isaac Luke and second rower David Fa'alogo.

Inu, who played on the wing against Tonga on October 18, takes over at centre from the suspended Steve Matai and second rower Setaimata Sa returns to the starting line-up for the injured Sika Manu with Fa'alogo filling the vacancy on the bench - alongside Luke, who displaces Dene Halatau.

Kearney explained: "Suspension and injury have kept Steve and Sika out but it's a comfort for us that we have quality players to bring in like Kris and David.

"And Isaac has kept pushing for a spot as well. It's a sign of the competition we have for places within the squad."

Team: Hohaia; Perrett, Inu, Ropati, Vatuvei; Marshall, Leuluai; Cayless (capt), Fien, Blair, Mannering, Sa, Smith.
Subs: Luke, Eastwood, Rapira, Fa'alogo.

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