Rugby League World Cup: Sonny Bill Williams back in New Zealand team
Last Updated: 08/11/13 8:24pm
Sonny Bill Williams: Rested against France last week
New Zealand have restored Sonny Bill Williams to their starting line-up for Friday's final World Cup Group B clash with Papua New Guinea at Leeds.
Williams made his eagerly-anticipated return for the Kiwis in their opening win over Samoa, but he was rested for last week's win over France which assured the holders of a quarter-final place.
But Williams is back in the side at Headingley, where Kieran Foran will take over as captain as Simon Mannering takes a breather.
Prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has also been rested, while second rower Frank Pritchard has not been considered due to minor knee and ankle injuries.
"Frank has a cork above his knee and a bit of a sore ankle," said coach Stephen Kearney. "There was a short period of time from the plane trip on Monday to Friday's match and I thought it would be best to give him a break."
Outside backs Josh Hoffman, Dean Whare and Manu Vatuvei have all been recalled as former Leeds forward Greg Eastwood returns to Headingley, but ex-Wigan scrum-half Thomas Leuluai has not recovered from a groin strain.
Leuluai is the only member of Kearney's 24-man squad yet to get a game but the coach says he has yet to settle on his strongest line-up.
"Obviously there are some big players - such as Simon, Jared and Frank - not playing this week but I couldn't say for certain that this is the side that plays next week," Kearney said.
"Right across the whole group, the pressure to perform is there because guys like Jason Nightingale, Kevin Locke and Krisnan Inu are waiting for an opportunity. That pressure is there, even more so, in the forwards. I think that's a real positive for us."
New Zealand: J Hoffman; R Tuivasa-Sheck, D Whare, B Goodwin, N Vatuvei; K Foran (capt), S Johnson; B Matulino, I Luke, J Bromwich, A Glenn, S Bl Williams, E Taylor.
Replacements: S Moa, S Kasiano, F-P Nu'uausala, G Eastwood.