Kiwi star not picked in New Zealand side to contest the World Cup later this year.
Code-jumping star Benji Marshall has ruled himself out of playing in New Zealand’s defence of the Rugby League World Cup next month as he focuses on his new rugby union career.
Marshall’s name was the most notable omission when a 17-man Kiwi training squad was named Wednesday. The squad was chosen from clubs that will not feature in the NRL finals.
The 28-year-old playmaker recently ended a celebrated decade-long relationship with Wests Tigers in the NRL where he became the club’s all-time leading points scorer.
He will join up with the Auckland Blues for the 2014 Super 15 rugby union season with hopes of making the 2015 rugby union World Cup and the 2016 New Zealand rugby sevens Olympic team.
Although New Zealand league convenor of selectors Tony Iro wanted Marshall available for his World Cup squad in England and Wales, he said the player ruled himself out because of his impending code switch.
“We’re naturally disappointed to not have Benji available for World Cup selection, but we understand the circumstances and wish him well,” Iro said.
“He was a key part of the Kiwis team that won New Zealand’s first ever Rugby League World Cup in 2008 and he followed that up with a starring role, as captain, in our 2010 Four Nations win.
“He’ll be missed, but we believe we have players in the halves that are ready to deliver in this World Cup tournament.”
Marshall debuted for the Kiwis in 2005 and played 27 Tests, including 19 as captain.