Former Wigan Warriors coach Michael Maguire might have lost his NRL job at Wests Tigers – but he remains in charge of New Zealand for the World Cup and is preparing for Saturday’s clash with Tonga.
The showdown at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium forms a key part of Maguire’s preparation for this Autumn’s tournament, when the 2008 winners and 2013 runners-up aim to bounce back after the disappointment of going out in the quarter-finals in 2017.
Maguire, 48, was at Wigan for two years, winning the Grand Final in 2010 and Challenge Cup in 2011, and has led the Kiwis since May 2018, when he succeeded David Kidwell.
His first match was the mid-season international against England in Denver in June of that year, when Wayne Bennett’s side won 36-18.
He has been in charge for eight further games, two against Australia (one win, one defeat), three against England (one win, two defeats), one against Tonga (win) and two against Great Britain (both wins).
The 23-8 success against the Lions in Christchurch in November 2019 was their most recent, with the pandemic taking its toll on fixtures.
He has named Parramatta playmaker Dylan Brown in a 25-man squad, but there is no place for seasoned internationals Shaun Johnson, of New Zealand Warriors, or Kodi Nikorima, of South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Brown is set to partner Melbourne Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes at the scrum base.
While 2017 World Cup semi-finalists Tonga will be led by St Helens coach Kristian Woolf at the World Cup, Dean Young will be on duty for the Auckland clash, with Wayne Bennett assisting in an advisory capacity.
“My commitment to St Helens and the inability of the representative and international weeks to line up in the two hemispheres means it is not possible to be in New Zealand for a week during the Super League season,” explained Woolf, who enjoyed victories over both Australia and Great Britain in 2019, when the team last played.
The Mate Ma’a have named New South Wales Origin stars Daniel Tupou, the Sydney Roosters winger, and Kotoni Staggs, the Brisbane Broncos halfback, in their squad.
New Zealand: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich (All Melbourne Storm), Dylan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Erin Clark (Gold Coast Titans), James Fisher-Harris (Penrith Panthers), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Peta Hiku (North Queensland Cowboys), Jahrome Hughes (Melbourne Storm), Moses Leota (Penrith Panthers), Isaac Liu (Gold Cast Titans), Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters), Te Maire Martin (Brisbane Broncos), Ken Maumalo (Wests Tigers), Ronaldo Mulitalo (Cronulla Sharks), Griffin Neame (North Queensland Cowboys), Briton Nikora (Cronulla Sharks), Marata Niukore, Isaiah Papali’i (both Parramatta Eels), Jordan Rapana (Canberra Raiders), Jordan Riki (Brisbane Broncos), Brandon Smith (Melbourne Storm), Scott Sorensen (Penrith Panthers), Joseph Tapine (Canberra Raiders), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (New Zealand Warriors).
Tonga: Tolotau Koula (Manly Sea Eagles), Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters), Siosifa Talakai (Cronulla Sharks), Moses Suli (St George Illawarra Dragons), Sione Katoa (Cronulla Sharks), Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane Broncos), Talatau Amone (St George Illawarra Dragons), Siosiua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters), Siliva Havili (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Addin Fonua-Blake (New Zealand Warriors), Sitili Tupouniua (Sydney Roosters), Keaon Koloamatangi (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Soni Luke (Penrith Panthers), Haumole Olakau’atu (Manly Sea Eagles), Tevita Pangai jnr (Canterbury Bulldogs), Tevita Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), Will Penisini (Parramatta Eels), Isaiya Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks), Joe Ofahengaue, Starford To’a (both Wests Tigers), Christian Tuipulotu (Manly Sea Eagles), Eliesa Katoa (New Zealand Warriors).
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