The Kiwis debutants, including Ngāti Kahungunu centre Brad Takairangi, have been given a pass mark by Coach David Kidwell.
Last night, four players made their debut in the Kiwis' first Rugby League World cup match against Sāmoa at Mount Smart Stadium.
A very pleased Kiwi coach and captain happy for his debutants to get the monkey off the back.
Says David Kidwell, “They've worked hard, and they deserve their place in the team.”
Brad Takairangi had the tough task of marking BJ Leilua. The Ngāti Kahungunu player combined with Jordan Rapana to shut down the dynamic Sāmoan back.
Captain Adam Blair says,” They've worked throughout this tournament, throughout the last couple of weeks we've been together, and it showed tonight.”
“Jordan Rapana, his winger that he plays outside him most of the year, and he told us that if you just get in his face an annoy him, (you will shut him down) the boys done really well,” says fullback Roger Tuivassa-Sheck
The occasion was a special one for Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who kitted up against many of his family members, including Warriors winger Ken Maumalo.
Says Asofa-Solomona, “Faith is massive to me. Ken's my cousin, we go way back since we were 10-years old. Just to share that moment with my blood, and my family is pretty special.”
Both sides were guilty of errors and will need to fix those ahead of their respective matches.
Says Kidwell, “As we get on in the tournament, we've got to be smarter with some of our passes, and decisions.
“We just didn't hold the ball at times where we should have. Cudos to the Kiwis who played good footy,” says Toa Sāmoa captain Frank Pritchard.
The Kiwis now turn their attention to Christchurch, where they will face Scotland who this afternoon take on the Tongans first up.