Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Levi earns start for Kiwis quarter-final

Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Levi has earned a starting spot in New Zealand’s side for their World Cup quarter-final against Fiji on Saturday at Westpac Stadium.

Danny Levi

Danny Levi

Levi earned a promotion in place of Thomas Leuluai, who missed out on the 21 altogether.

The 21-year-old Levi has played his three Tests from the bench since his debut in the Kiwis' opening World Cup match.

“In the last three games, from what we have seen, he thoroughly deserves that starting spot,” coach David Kidwell said on Tuesday.

Te Maire Martin has been recalled in the No.6 jersey to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves.

That sees Kodi Nikorima, who was five-eighth in the loss against Tonga, set to play a utility role against Fiji.

Adam Blair will skipper the side from lock, while Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine and Nelson Asofa-Solomona will get their chance to play in front of their home city fans.

Kidwell said it was important to play "tough and smart football", with the latter lacking against Tonga.

Meanwhile, Fijian winger Marcelo Montoya admits Tonga have done his team no favours with their 28-22 upset of New Zealand in last weekend's World Cup boilover in Hamilton.

The loss meant the Kiwis finished second in Pool B, and became the first tier-one nation in rugby league history to lose to a tier-two opponent. Montoya has no doubt the stung Kiwis will come out firing on Saturday.

"Now the New Zealand team know where they've got to patch up, they're going to come out at 100 miles an hour, and we'll have to come out the same," he said.

"We've got to be very well prepared, and we've got to weather that storm."

The Bulldogs youngster says confidence is running high in a Fijian team which recorded three runaway wins in pool play to finish top of Group D.

The Bati have amassed 32 tries after beating Italy 38-10, Wales 72-6 and the United States 58-12, seven tries ahead of New Zealand's second-placed 25.

Montoya says despite the sudden-death pressure of quarter-final play, he doesn't expect the Kiwis will see themselves as under threat.

"They know where they're at and they know what they can produce as a collective," he said.

"They're a world class team, and I think for us it's about focusing on ourselves.

"We've just got block out what happened last week to them and focus on getting the win. They're going to come out as a new team."

Led by skipper and fullback Kevin Naiqama, Fiji have a wealth of firepower in their back five, and Montoya says there's plenty of experience throughout the team that's going to be crucial in shutting down the Kiwis.

"They've got a strong forward pack and they've got some good outside backs -they're very agile and find their front, and make a lot of metres for them.

"For us, it's just about defending well as a group collectively, and minimising their attack."