Lance Hohaia has a chance to nail down the number seven jersey for next week?s Gillette Tri-Nations clash with Great Britain when he makes his comeback from injury against England at Warrington on Sunday.
The 22-year-old New Zealand Warrior has not played since tearing ankle ligaments in the Kiwis? 38-28 win over Australia in Sydney three weeks ago.
He played hooker in the opening Tri-Nations match but has been earmarked as the short-term successor to scrum-half Stacey Jones, who has now completed his international commitments for the season.
?Lance was outstanding in the first game against Australia and the roles are similar,? said the Kiwis technical adviser Graeme Norton, who is in charge of the side on Sunday.
?He has had quite a bit of intense physio over the last three weeks. He was probably right for a run last week.?
Norton has included seven players involved in New Zealand?s 42-26 win over Britain at Loftus Road last Saturday and, among the others in the 17-strong squad, Shontayne Hape, David Faiumu, Iafeta Palea?aesina and Tony Puletua will be aiming to press their claims for a recall after playing against Australia.
Hull?s utility player Motu Tony, who filled in at hooker against Britain, has the chance to demonstrate his versatility after being switched to stand-off in a side captained by Leeds second rower Ali Lauitiiti.
Four other English-based players, Robbie Paul, Joe Vagana, Henry Fa?afili and Willie Poching, have been called in to help make up the numbers but Norton insists they could force their way into the Tri-Nations squad with a good performance at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
?There is an opportunity in the squad, depending on what happens in this game and next week?s game,? he said. ?There are three games left and no doors are closed.
?The result is very important to keep the momentum going. We are looking at it as a Test match and we?re preparing for a Test match.?
Paul, who won the last of his 27 caps against France in Carcassonne last November, will come up against two of his new Huddersfield team-mates in 6ft 5in, 18st prop Eorl Crabtree and stand-off Chris Thorman, the England captain.
The veteran Kiwi will be Thorman?s half-back partner for the Giants in 2006 and Great Britain assistant coach Jon Sharp is expected to choose between the pair of them for the Huddersfield captaincy.
?I?ve not had chance to speak to Robbie yet,? said Thorman. ?I?m looking forward to Sunday and to playing against him. I?ll tell Eorl not to run at him too hard.?
England, who beat France in their first match a fortnight ago, have lost Leeds prop Danny Ward from their original squad but they have been bolstered by the arrival of Great Britain squad men Stephen Wild and Jon Wilkin.
England v New Zealand, Sunday 6 November 2:15pm, Halliwell Jones Stadium (Warrington).
England (from): R Mathers (Leeds), M Calderwood (Leeds), S Reardon (Bradford), P Sykes (London Broncos), D Hodgson (Salford), C Thorman (Huddersfield, capt), L Robinson (Salford), E Crabtree (Huddersfield), M Alker (Salford), A Lynch (Bradford), D Griffin (Wakefield), P Wood (Warrington), J Jones-Buchanan (Leeds), L Radford (Bradford), B Westwood (Warrington), J Wilkin (St Helens), S Wild (Wigan), C Charles (Salford).
New Zealand: H Fa?afili (Warrington) J Webster (Melbourne) S Hape (Bradford) P Whatuira (Wests Tigers) M Vatuvei (NZ Warriors) M Tony (Hull) L Hohaia (NZ Warriors) I Palea?aesina (NZ Warriors) D Faiumu (North Queensland) T Puletua (Penrith) A Lauitiiti (Leeds, capt) L Anderson (NZ Warriors) B Harrison (Wests Tigers)
Subs: R Paul (Huddersfield) F Pritchard (Penrith) W Poching (Leeds) J Vagana (Bradford)
Referee: Jason Robinson (Australia)
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this preview.Like