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Squads and ref for Tri-Nations Game I
Bulldogs utility Reni Maitua will start at lock for Australia in its opening Tri Nations rugby league clash with New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.
Maitua will make his Test debut at Mt Smart Stadium after some outstanding form in the Bulldogs' run to the second last week of the NRL finals series. North Queensland's Johnathan Thurston has won the battle with Ben Hornby for the halfback job while Brisbane utility back Justin Hodges will play in the centres with his Broncos' teammate Karmichael Hunt retaining his spot at fullback.
Melbourne whiz-kid Greg Inglis has claimed a wing spot while Clive Churchill medallist Shaun Berrigan has claimed the utility bench role.
Australian Team: Karmichael Hunt, Matt King, Mark Gasnier, Justin Hodges, Greg inglis, Darren Lockyer (c), Johnathan Thurston, Willie Mason, Cameron Smith, Petero Civoniceva, Luke O'Donnell, Nathan Hindmarsh, Reni Maitua
Interchange: Mark O'Meley, Shaun Berrigan, Andrew Ryan, Brent Kite
Across the ditch, New Zealand will field four new caps when it takes on Australia in Auckland on Saturday in the opening match of the Tri-Nations rugby league tournament.
Sydney Roosters centre Iosia Soliola, Manly centre Steve Matai and New Zealand Warriors utility Simon Mannering, who has been picked at lock, will all make their Test debuts in the run-on side for the Kiwis. Melbourne prop Adam Blair is set to play his first Test off the bench.
New Zealand Team: Brent Webb, Tame Tupou, Iosia Soliola, Steve Matai, Manu Vatuvei, Nigel Vagana, Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki (c), Dene Halatau, Roy Asotasi, David Kidwell, Tony Puletua, Simon Mannering
Interchange: Jerome Ropati, Nathan Cayless, Adam Blair, Frank Pritchard
Meanwhile, English Super League referee Ashley Klein has been appointed to the first two matches of the Tri Nations rugby league series beginning this weekend.
Klein, an Australian based in England, was the 2005 Super League referee of the year and controlled this year's Test between Australia and New Zealand in May. Australia plays New Zealand at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday before a return fixture at Telstra Dome in Melbourne a week later.