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Hoffman, Johnson to debut for Kiwis

Published: 7:08PM Tuesday April 17, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Brisbane Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman and Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson have been named to make their Test debuts in the Anzac Test against the Kangaroos at Eden Park on Friday night.

Hoffman will start in the number one jersey and will form an exciting back-three with experienced New Zealand wingers, Jason Nightingale and Manu Vatuvei.

As expected, Johnson will partner Benji Marshall in the halves and he says he is looking forward to playing beside his captain.

"It is very important, he's such a key part of this team and he's certainly going to make my job a lot easier," Johnson told media today.

"He's got really good chat and he's making me feel really welcome and giving me some confidence to make sure that if I see something's on I go for it."

"I don't think I'm the next Benji. I think there can ever be only one Benji and I'm looking at creating my own pathway, but it is a bit daunting I guess."

The New Zealand pack will be far from overwhelmed. In-form Warriors prop Ben Matulino, who has 11 caps, is the least experienced of the starting six and forms a formidable frontrow with Sam McKendry and hooker Issac Luke.

The backrow sees the return of 21-Test veteran Frank Pritchard with vice captain Adam Blair and lock Jeremy Smith named in the 12 and 13 jerseys respectively.

Warriors backrower Simon Mannering has been named  in the centres but the Warriors captain has plenty of experience in the three-quarter line and his defensive pedigree is a nice contrast to the attacking thrust of Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who has been named as the other centre.

The reserves bench has plenty of options with utility Nathan Fien named alongside Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jesse Bromwich, who will also make his debut, and Alex Glenn. Brisbane winger Gerard Beale has been named as the 18th man.

Kiwis: 1-Josh Hoffman, 2-Jason Nightingale, 3-Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 4-Simon Mannering, 5-Manu Vatuvei, 6-Benji Marshall, 7-Shaun Johnson, 8-Sam McKendry, 9-Issac Luke, 10-Ben Matulino, 11-Frank Pritchard, 12-Adam Blair, 13-Jeremy Smith.

Interchange: Nathan Fien, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jesse Bromwich, Alex Glenn, Gerard Beale (18th man)