AS excitement builds for the series between England and New Zealand Kiwis, Nathan Okell runs the rule over the touring squad and picks out his 5 to watch.

Shaun Johnson:

This Is Lancashire:

Shaun Johnson is a player no England fan will have forgotten in a hurry.

The talented half-back has tormented England in previous outings, with his drop goal condemning them to a 17-16 defeat in toe 2016 Four Nations campaign, and his heartbreaking last-gasp try in the 2013 World Cup semi-final at Wembley to send England packing.

On his day, Johnson is up there with the best playmakers in the game, possessing a devilish sidestep and a dangerous passing game.

England must not give Johnson any space to work in if they are to retain the Baskerville Shield, as he is the player above all that makes the Kiwis tick over, and most attacking plays come through him.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves:

This Is Lancashire:

Jared Waera-Hargreaves, fifth from right, helping to lead the Haka during the Four Nations in 2016. Picture: Mike Boden

Known as one of the biggest forwards in the game and one of the most difficult to put down, JWH will be at the heart of a menacing New Zealand pack.

Tipping the scales at just over 17 stones and standing at 6ft 3ins, England will have their hands full in stopping him from making crucial metres.

JWH is also an experienced campaigner, gaining 24 caps during his career, and at the age of 29 is still in the prime years of his career.

Coming off the back of helping Sydney Roosters to win the NRL Grand Final, Hargreaves will be hoping to cap off a successful season by defeating England in their own back yard.

Martin Taupau:

Adept in any of the three forward positions, Taupau was a stand-out player in what was a dismal year for his club, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

Ranked second in the NRL for offloads, only behind the formidable David Fifita, the Kiwi is a dangerous prospect who can make plenty of impact metres and then slip the ball out for somebody else to make some more.

Taupau is also an accomplished defensive player, with a 91% tackle success rate in 2018.

If England can negate the offloading effect of players such as Martin Taupau, they have every chance of enjoying a successful tournament.

Jesse Bromwich:

This Is Lancashire:

Jesse Bromwich tackling Australia's Sam Thaiday during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup Final. Picture: Mike Boden

Jesse Bromwich is the cornerstone of the Melbourne Storm pack which made it all the way to the NRL Grand Final, eventually to be toppled by Sydney Roosters.

A past Storm Forward of the Year award winner and on the back of three consecutive Storm Player of the Year awards between 2014-16, Bromwich has developed a key role as a leader, whether that be for club or country.

He is also an established member of the Kiwi test side, earning 24 caps.

The battles in the forwards between the likes of Bromwich and James Graham will be key to giving both England and New Zealand the front foot, and is an area England should be targeting if they are to come out on top.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak:

Newly appointed Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has enjoyed a successful year for Penrith Panthers and has retained the full-back role he held for the Denver test, after standing in for the injured Dally M Player of the Year Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

His appointment as captain came as a surprise for many Down Under, however Zelezniak will be hoping he can emulate the achievements of his great grandfather Tipene (Steve) Watene - one of New Zealand rugby league’s most revered figures.

Only 23 years of age, Zelezniak is already an accomplished NRL player, and is in the top five for kick return metres in the league.

He has lightning pace and is freakishly strong for a back, so England’s kicking game must be spot on if they are to stop him from working his magic.