New Zealand struck by injury blow to star player ahead of clash at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium

New Zealand have been hit with some bad news ahead of their opening World Cup clash against Lebanon this afternoon at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The game kicks off at 19:30 and sees the number one ranked team in the world try to emulate Australia and England’s dominant performances yesterday as they scored a combined 102 points to lay down respective markers.

However, the Kiwis will have to do without an NRL winner.

Front rower Moses Leota has been ruled out of the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup opener against Lebanon at Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington today.

Penrith’s NRL grand final-winning prop has been withdrawn from the line-up after picking up a minor groin injury in yesterday’s final field session. Parramatta’s Marata Niukore replaces Leota on the interchange with Panthers forward Scott Sorensen taking Niukore’s place as 19th man.

Niukore will be playing his second Test for the Kiwis after making his New Zealand debut in the June international against Mate Ma’a Tonga.

Leota will be available for the Kiwis’ second match against Jamaica next Saturday.

It’s postpones the Penrith man’s first appearance at the tournament. He didn’t play against Leeds last week in the warm-up game either nor did any of the Grand Finalists in New Zealand’s squad for the tournament.

This nonetheless leaves boss Michael Maguire with a chance to demonstrate the strength in depth of his squad which was also evident at Headingley last week.

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