Dean Whare has been given the nod to start for the Kiwis at centre in this weekend's match in Hamilton.
This is the strongest side that David Kidwell has named for the Rugby League World Cup.
Tonga may have the tournament's top try scorer Michael Jennings, but New Zealand have Whare who is capable of shutting down the Tongan centre.
Coach David Kidwell says, “He's all class Dean. He showed a bit of that over the weekend. So I'm really looking forward to him coming up against one of the class centres.”
After two games of working out their combinations, the Kiwis are ready to field their best team against a Tongan team brimming with confidence.
“We're in a really good space. We have been since the start of the campaign. We're nice and relaxed, but we also know the challenge ahead of us,” says Kidwell.
The toughest decision David Kidwell had to make was in the halves. In the end, Kodi Nikorima won the right to partner with Shaun Johnson over Te Maire Martin.
Veteran hooker Thomas Leuluai says, “Obviously it would've been a tough decision after the weekend. Everyone in the group played really well. As players, we're confident in both of them.”
“I thought Kodi had a good game against Sāmoa.”
The Kiwis are expecting a packed house with the same kind of atmosphere which was seen during the Tonga v Sāmoa encounter.
“It was awesome to see that. That's what it's all about, Rugby League bringing teams together,” says Kidwell.
“We're all here to make sure we play hard in the game, [but] it's left on the field.”
A win over Tonga is important. Should they lose, then they will end up playing Australia in the semi-final