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4 days ago
Warriors back rower Epalahame Lauaki will join his older brother and All Black Sione as a test footballer when he makes his debut for the Kiwis in the first test against Great Britain in Huddersfield on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Lauaki is one of two Kiwi debutants for the Galpharm Stadium test along with Sydney Roosters fullback Sam Perrett (22).
Lauaki was first selected for the Kiwis last year, playing only in their non-test match against the New Zealand Residents in Greymouth. Last weekend he appeared for the All Golds in their clash against the Northern Union marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of international rugby league.
Lauaki will be on a bench which also includes his Warriors team-mates Sam Rapira and the Warrington-bound Louis Anderson plus Brisbane utility Greg Eastwood.
Perrett replaces the injured fullback Krisnan Inu in a backline showing some other changes as well. Coming in on the wing for Luke Covell, who was cruelly injured in the opening minutes of his debut in Wellington, is giant Bradford Bulls winger Tame Tupou. The 1.96m Tupou, formerly with the Brisbane Broncos, came into the Kiwis as a replacement on Sunday night after turning out for the All Golds in Warrington. He played three tests for the Kiwis last year.
The experienced Paul Whatuira remains in the centres as he eyes his 13th test at a ground which will be home for him next year when he takes up his contract with the Huddersfield Giants in the English Super League. His partner in the midfield will be Bradford