Mt Smart Tonga: A home game for the Kiwis?

When is a "home" game - not entirely a home game?

For the New Zealand men's and women's rugby league teams, Saturday's matches fit firmly into that category.

As they did in selling out Mt Smart Stadium for last year's test against Australia, Tongan fans will be out in force to support their side.

Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson admitted silencing the song, and lowering the thousands of red flags, would take some doing.

"We'll do our best to try to take the crowd out of the game. Whether we can do that or not, because they're so passionate, that's yet to be seen.

"But we've got to be ruthless in what we do. We've got to be disciplined in what we do. We can't expect a two try or three try lead to be good enough.

"Whatever we're doing, we've got to stay on it for a full 80 minutes and look at the players in this room. They've got a great squad but I think we've got one, too," Johnson said.

Among those players is a returning veteran, who is also Johnson's fellow New Zealand half.

After a seven year international absence, 34-year-old Benji Marshall knew exactly how he was going to feel as kick off loomed.

"I can guarantee you when the anthems going and I'm thinking about why I'm playing, which is what I always do. I'll be thinking about my family.

"I'll lose it for sure. I'm paying about $1.01 to cry, so don't bet on it."

Despite that, Marshall is confident he'd be ready when the whistle went.

And he was confident he could offer more than he could during his last test back in 2012.

"You get to learn a lot of things over seven years.

"I think my leadership in particular has gone to another level. I feel like I'm playing better footy now than I was in 2012.

"With those things together, that's just what I want to try and bring to the team. Performance is probably the most important thing but that leadership thing is a big thing as well," Marshall said.

Teuila Fotu-Moala is one of those leaders for the Kiwi Ferns, who will play their first match against Fetu Samoa for 11 years.

A standout for the Brisbane team which won last year's inaugural NRL women's premiership, the 25-year-old believed the competition has been hugely beneficial for the New Zealand players.

She said new coach Justin Morgan has been the same.

"We want to win on Saturday but we should be winning everyday leading towards Saturday.

"He's been really awesome with communicating his intentions to us, he's been really transparent and that's important, especially for us females."

A direct approach is also exactly what the Kiwis could expect to face.

Tongan prop Sio Siua Taukeiaho had no doubt both teams wouldn't be shying away from the big hits.

"It's pretty much just run it straight and I know their forward pack are going to come running off the line.

"It's gonna be a tough battle but I have faith and trust in our players to show up and turn up against these Kiwis and hopefully we can do that for the whole 80 minutes."

Doing that could mean a second straight win over the Kiwis.

Not doing it could mean New Zealand avenge their upset loss to Tonga at the 2017 World Cup.

Although, as far as Shaun Johnson is concerned, Saturday's game had nothing to do with that.

"We can't get a World Cup back, can we?

"It's the biggest tournament in rugby league, so in no way can this be a revenge match.

"It's a chance for us to shine the torch on New Zealand Rugby League and the Kiwis and the the way we play.

"It's going to be packed Mt Smart and it's going to be all for Tonga I think so if we can do it against that we can do it against anyone in the world."