Rugby league: Seven new faces named in depleted NZ Kiwis side to face Samoa, Australia

Seven new players have been named by coach Michael Maguire in his 21-man squad for the upcoming Pacific Championships against Australia and Samoa.

In a side hit by injuries and unavailability, New Zealand's depth will be fully tested, with an exciting group named by Maguire.  

Newcastle Knights utility Fa'amanu Brown has switched his allegiance from Samoa to New Zealand and is joined by club teammate Leo Thompson as first-time call-ups.

Parramatta Eels forward Wiremu Greig, Gold Coast Titans outside back Keano Kini, North Queensland Cowboys prop Griffin Neame, Canberra Raiders centre Matthew Timoko and Sydney Roosters backrower Naufahu Whyte are the other new faces.

"It's always a real thrill being able to bring new players into the Kiwi camp," said Maguire. "It's a special place and these men have earned the opportunity.

"They'll benefit so much from being around players who have done the jersey proud. This series is exciting for the game in New Zealand and also a chance for us to start our journey to the next World Cup in 2025."

However, the likes of Shaun Johnson, Brandon Smith, Jeremy Marshall-King, Marata Niukore, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sebastian Kris, Scott Sorensen, Kodi Nikorima, Te Maire Martin and Jordan Riki are among those unable to turn out for various reasons.

Despite their run to the NRL preliminary final, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is the only NZ Warriors player selected.

The Kiwis open their campaign against Samoa on October 21, before facing Australia at Melbourne a week later.  

NZ Kiwis: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Dylan Brown, Fa'amanu Brown, James Fisher-Harris, Kieran Foran, Wiremu Greig, Jahrome Hughes, Jamayne Isaako, Keano Kini, Moses Leota, Danny Levi, Joseph Manu, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Griffin Neame, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Briton Nikora, Isaiah Papali'i, Joseph Tapine, Leo Thompson, Matthew Timoko, Naufahu Whyte