Tonga target Kiwis scalp

Mate Ma'a Tonga are eying a shot at history in Saturday's Rugby League World Cup clash against New Zealand in Hamilton.

The Kingdom repelled Polynesian rivals Toa Samoa 32-18 at the weekend to confirm their place in the knockout rounds and avoid a potential quarter final clash with Australia.

A win over the Kiwis at Waikato Stadium, in a match to determine top spot in Group B, would also avoid a last-eight matchup against England.

Tuimoala Lolohea said they were reminded by the coaching staff after the match that a tier two nation has never beaten one of the big three.

"It's never happened before and we get a good opportunity next Saturday night against the Kiwis I guess to make a mark in the tournament and make some history," he said.

"It would be good to get a win but we need to prepare well for our toughest game so far on the campaign."

Mate Ma'a coach Kristian Woolf said Tonga were gaining in confidence with every game but was coy about the prospect of beating the Kiwis in their own backyard.

"Can we go out there and compete in a week's time? Of course we can," he said.

"It's a massive ask to for us to beat a number two in the world. We're considered a tier two nation (and) no tier two nation has ever beaten a tier one nation so it's a massive ask.

"It's one we're certainly going to go out there and give our absolute best shot and as I said we're getting more and more confident so we're certainly up for a really good challenge but I'm not going to make any bold predictions."

Meanwhile New Zealand coach David Kidwell has recalled a heap of experienced internationals for Saturday's decisive clash.

Thomas Leuluai returns at hooker while Simon Mannering slots into the back-row, after sitting out the Kiwis' 74-6 victory over Scotland.

Jordan Rapana and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak start on the wings, with Dean Whare in the centres and Kodi Nikorima joining Shaun Johnson in the halves.