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New Zealand coach Michael Maguire says a conversation with Kieran Foran last year was enough to convince him his career in the Kiwis jersey wasn't over.

Maguire lauded the persistence of Foran on Tuesday after naming the Canterbury five-eighth in the halves at the expense of Shaun Johnson, who was left out of the side for Saturday's clash against Great Britain after an unhappy night against Australia last Friday.

Foran has not played for the Kiwis since the Anzac Test match in May, 2017, thanks largely to a horrid run of injuries with the Warriors and then Canterbury.  

"I've known Kieran for quite some time, he's had some challenges but it's a credit to him," Maguire said in Auckland following the team announcement on Tuesday.

"He's a great example that if you're determined to do something and want to achieve it he's one that can. 

Kieran Foran playing for New Zealand in 2017.
Kieran Foran playing for New Zealand in 2017. ©NRL Photos

"Kieran at his best is one of the world's best players. You see that on the park with the way he talks to the players and how the players hold him.

"Everyone knows he's faced a bit over the past two years and it's not just his health. It's a mental state as well.

"There's a lot of that that goes around. He's a great example of turning that around in that space. He also knows we're in a Test match and turning around what we didn't get last Friday."

Kieran at his best is one of the world's best players

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire on Kieran Foran

Maguire was confident Foran could offer the Kiwis a point of difference in attack alongside veteran playmaker Benji Marshall.

The pair have not played together in a Test match since 2012.  

"I've watched him at training and even though he's aged the smarts between the ears gets smarter so he'll be able to handle himself well," Maguire said.

"Kieran's got his own quality where he can dive quickly into the line.

"He can keep people honest, and so can Shaun. But you've got to complement the players in the team. We've looked at the style we want to play and how he can work with Benji.

"It's a real credit to him to see Kieran develop his body back where it needs to be and play at this level."

The immediate future of Johnson remains in the air following his omission.

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Maguire said the decision has been helped by the depth created in the halves in recent years. 

Last year's playmaker Kodi Nikorima is also struggling for a spot, named on an extended bench.

"We've got high standards here at the moment and we're looking for consistency all the time," Maguire said.

"I think they all understand that. [Shaun took the decision] very well, I had a long conversation with him.

"If Shaun goes away and works hard on his game he's definitely shown he's an international player.

"On his day he's a great player. I'm looking forward to him going away and developing his game."