Coach Gordon Tietjens has selected an experienced team for the 16-nation tournament, at a Skilled Park venue which holds mixed memories for them since it was introduced to the series two years ago.
In both tournaments there, New Zealand reached the final but then lost heavily to Fiji.
That record has become symptomatic of Tietjens’ team, who made the decider in seven of nine tournaments on the way to taking out last year’s series but only won two of them.
Winger Sherwin Stowers says that record isn’t weighing the team down this week although he suspects Tietjens will be doing his utmost to ensure the recent trend ends.
“This a new series and it is important for us to start with a bang and hopefully go one better this year.
“Nothing changes for us in terms of preparation and we trust our coach. He is the best coach in the world and he knows the game in and out.”
New Zealand are without the injured Gillies Kaka this week but the team, led by captain DJ Forbes, is otherwise similar to the outfit who won the World Cup and secured an 11th series crown in 14 attempts earlier this year.
Their pool opponents on Saturday are the USA, Tonga and Kenya.