New Zealand Rugby League

Two-time NRL premiership winner Scott Sorensen and Canberra Raiders outside back Sebastian Kris will make their Test debuts in the New Zealand Kiwis’ second Rugby League World Cup match against newcomer Jamaica at Hull’s MKM Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Sunday NZT).

The 29-year-old Sorensen will become the fifth member of the remarkable Sorensen family to represent the Kiwis at Test level.

And Kris (24) caps a remarkable story of his own by earning his first Test jersey after he stepped aside from the NRL in 2020 before reviving his career in 2021. He scored a first half hat-trick in his first appearance in the Kiwi jersey in the 74-0 match against Leeds on October 8.

Sorensen, a try scorer in Penrith’s second straight premiership win, has been brought onto the bench for the Kiwis’ second Pool C match against Jamaica’s Reggae Warriors, who are at the Rugby League World Cup for the first time.

Kris forms a new combination on the flanks with Vodafone Warriors winger and former Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak returning to the side for his 13th Test after last appearing in the home Test win over Mate M’a Tonga in 2019. They come in for Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jordan Rapana who both played in the opening 34-12 win over the Lebanon Cedars in Warrington last Sunday.

Head coach Michael Maguire has also made some other changes.

Parramatta’s Warriors-bound Marata Niukore has been named at left centre replacing ex-Raider Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and another of Penrith’s grand final winners Moses Leota will start in the front row with his clubmate James Fisher-Harris. Leota was named for the match against Lebanon but was ruled out after picking up a minor groin injury in the team’s final field session. He comes into the side for captain Jesse Bromwich with Fisher-Harris chosen to lead the Kiwis on Saturday.

There’s a swap in the second row which sees Cronulla-Sutherland’s Briton Nikora moved from his bench role against Lebanon to start against Jamaica while Parramatta’s Wests Tigers-bound Isaiah Papali’i is switched to the interchange.

Also out of the side this week is Canberra loose forward Joseph Tapine with Gold Coast’s Isaac Liu recalled for his ninth Test.

Sorensen’s selection comes more than 70 years after his late grandfather Bill Sorensen (Kiwi #338) began his New Zealand career. He went on to play 24 Tests from 1951-1960.

His brother Dave (Kiwi #494), Scott’s great uncle, represented New Zealand in 1971-1972 before brothers Dane and Kurt Sorensen – Scott’s uncles – left an indelible mark on the rugby league landscape.

Between them Dane (#520) and Kurt (#524) played 45 Tests for New Zealand in the course of their outstanding professional careers spanning the 1970, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Dane finished his NRL career with 229 appearances for Cronulla-Sutherland and Eastern Suburbs including a then-club record 216 for the Sharks. Kurt made almost 130 NRL appearances for the Sharks and more than 250 for Widnes, ending his career with the club with a try in the 1993 Challenge Cup grand final loss to Wigan.

POSITIONSQUAD NO.PLAYERS NAMEHERITAGE NUMBER
Fullback1Joseph MANU# 815
Wing24Sebastian KRIS# 828
Centre3Marata NIUKORE# 820
Centre4Peta HIKU# 781
Wing19Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK# 794
Five Eighth6Dylan BROWN# 826
Halfback14Kieran FORAN# 757
Prop15Moses LEOTA# 827
Hooker9Brandon SMITH# 816
Prop10James FISHER-HARRIS (c)# 801
Second Row12Kenny BROMWICH# 796
Second Row17Briton NIKORA# 818
Loose Forward20Isaac LIU# 805
Interchange11Isaiah PAPALI’I# 817
Interchange16Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA# 804
Interchange22Jeremy MARSHALL-KING# 830
Interchange23Scott SORENSEN
18th Man21Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD820
19th Man8Jesse BROMWICH775

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