Benji Marshall out of Centenary Test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Benji Marshall out of Centenary Test

29/04/2008 07:21:06 PM Comments (0)

A "shattered" Benji Marshall has told New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney he won't play in next week's rugby league clash with Australia in a massive blow to the Kiwis' hopes of springing a Centenary Test upset.

Marshall relayed the news to Kearney late Monday night after the superstar five-eighth tore scar tissue around his injured left knee during his comeback match for the Wests Tigers against Cronulla last Sunday.

"He was very disappointed," Kearney told AAP.

"Knowing that this Test match was coming up he sort of gave himself an opportunity of playing at the weekend after five or six weeks out, and things didn't go as well as he thought.

"He was shattered actually."

Marshall's omission not only robs the Kiwis of their chief playmaker, but also the May 9 Test of one of its biggest drawcards.

It will also raise fears the SCG clash could be another massacre similar to Australia's 58-0 mauling of the Kiwis last October.

Kearney, though, insists his side will be competitive, despite Marshall's omission following injuries to Krisnan Inu and Manu Vatuvei and doubts over the availability of English-based pair Brent Webb and Thomas Leuluai.

"From our perspective, all we can do as a coaching and management staff is provide the team with the right information and what we think is going to make us competitive against Australia," Kearney said.

"All I can ask for the players is that they perform as good as they can, and if they do that I certainly think we've got the personnel to be competitive."

While Bulldogs pivot Ben Roberts would appear to have the inside running on the No.6 jersey, Kearney said the Kiwis had a few options - although not "a heap".

"There's a couple of options we have, Thomas Leuluai from Wigan in the Super League, and then Benny Roberts, he's playing well at the moment ... we've got a couple of options, not a heap but a couple.

"But I'm super confident whoever wears the No.6 jumper will certainly play with a lot of intent and the right attitude."

After missing five weeks since injuring his knee in round one, Marshall is now not expected to return to action until the Tigers' round 10 clash with Newcastle on May 18. The club plays Brisbane on Saturday and have the bye the following week.

"Benji has seen the doctor and he's torn some scar tissue which has leaked a little bit of fluid so he's been needled and he can't do anything until Friday," said Tigers assistant coach Royce Simmons.

"It's only a very minor thing, we don't want to make a big deal out of it.

"The doctor said he needed another week off, it was only scar tissue which caused a bit of fluid to get under the knee.

"There's still a lot of rounds to go.

"Benji could play this week, without any doubt, but at the end of the day it's a long way to go.

"We're in the Melbourne Cup, not the Golden Slipper, we tend to make sure he comes back 100 per cent."

Marshall has long said he would rule himself out of the Test if he didn't feel up to the task after admitting he came back too soon from a shoulder injury to play in last year's Anzac Test.

In terms of his national aspirations, he will now target the end of year World Cup.

With Marshall's availability settled, the biggest question around the Kiwis team announcement on Sunday will likely centre on whether Webb and Leuluai will be included.

Both players are believed to be facing resistance in gaining a release from their Super League clubs, with Leeds wanting Webb for their Challenge Cup match against Harlequins on May 10, and Wigan wanting Leuluai to stay and prepare for their match against Warrington on May 16.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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