New Zealand halfback Jahrome Hughes will finally make his first appearance at this year's tournament after missing the first two games with a thigh strain.

The Kiwis have been untroubled despite Hughes' absence so far, but it provides a welcome boost to the team ahead of the knock-out stages and a likely semi-final with Australia.

Renowned enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has also been named to play for the first time in the tournament following the end of his three-match suspension from the Roosters' final game of the NRL season.

The Kiwi prop made headlines before the tournament began when it was revealed he would be allowed to serve out his NRL ban during the Kiwis' pre-tournament trial game and the first two matches of the tournament.

Meanwhile Penrith Panthers prop Moses Leota won't back up his appearance against Jamaica after sustaining a chest injury. Outgoing Parramatta Eels back-rower Marata Niukore will also miss the game while he deals with a hamstring issue. He had played both of the team's opening games.

Melbourne Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona will start his first game of the tournament in place of Nikora after appearing from the bench so far, while Cronulla Sharks back-rower Briton Nikora will shift to the centres as a replacement for Niukore.

New Zealand's final group stage game against Ireland kicks off on Saturday morning at 5.30am (AEDT).


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