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Despite stitches and black eye, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak cleared to play for Kiwis against Mate Ma'a Tonga

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been passed fit to lead New Zealand against Tonga and will do so from the wing in Saturday's Test in Auckland.

The new Bulldogs signing was cleared of any concussion symptoms following a collision in his debut for the Sydney club and despite sporting multiple stitches around a heavily swollen eye, he will lead the Kiwis for the fifth time.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's return at fullback has prompted coach Michael Maguire to shift Watene-Zelezniak to the wing, a position he last played at the 2017 World Cup.

The 23-year-old excelled at fullback in all five of New Zealand's Tests last year, particularly in the upset of Australia at Mt Smart Stadium, which was his first as skipper.

Maguire has stayed true to his pledge to start veteran playmaker Benji Marshall alongside Shaun Johnson in the halves.

It is Marshall's first Test for seven years, with the Wests Tigers No.7 having admitted this week he'd all-but given up on a Test recall.

Cronulla second-rower Briton Nikora is the only uncapped player in the starting team.

He is one of four changes from the New Zealand side that ran out for the 34-0 whitewash of England at Leeds in their final Test of last November's series.

Missing are winger Jamayne Isaako, who is representing Samoa, former captain Adam Blair, second-rower Kevin Proctor and half Kodi Nikorima.

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The international Test takes place the same weekend as State of Origin II. Source: 1 NEWS


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