Benji looks for patience in Cup campaign - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Benji looks for patience in Cup campaign

By Robert Lowe 19/10/2008 03:04:23 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand five-eighth Benji Marshall will look for a touch more patience when the Kiwis begin their Rugby League World Cup campaign against defending champions Australia in Sydney next Sunday.

Marshall and halfback Thomas Leuluai ran the show as New Zealand swamped Tonga 56-8 in Auckland in the last hitout for both teams before the tournament.

Marshall, with two, and Leuluai also got among the Kiwis' 10 tries, three of which went to centre Jerome Ropati.

Having been included in the Kiwis' leadership group, Marshall said he was reasonably satisfied with what he produced at Mt Smart Stadium.

"I wanted to try to stamp a bit of authority on the game and have a few more runs," he said.

"I did a few good things but I've got a lot more to improve on as well. It was just a good feeling to get out there and have a bit of fun."

Marshall said a key aspect both he and the team would work on was having greater composure.

"We could be a little bit more patient," he said.

"At times I got a bit excited in trying to do the big play every time."

A large portion of New Zealand's cup hopes rest on having Marshall healthy and on top of his game.

The 23-year-old Whakatane-born playmaker has had an injury-blighted career, including five bouts of shoulder surgery, and the Test against Tonga was just his fourth for the Kiwis.

After being sidelined this year with a knee problem, he got a good run of games with the Wests Tigers through the rest of the NRL season.

The World Cup marks the first time he has been available for the Kiwis in an end-of-year campaign and he is relishing the involvement.

"I finished the season off well and built up a bit of momentum," he said.

Coach Stephen Kearney agreed with Marshall's assessment of his display against Tonga.

"He can still improve, but I thought he came up with some real good plays," Kearney said.

"With his pace and the momentum the forwards built for him, he was tough to handle."

Kearney made three late changes to his starting 13, withdrawing prop and skipper Nathan Cayless (knee), fullback Lance Hohaia and winger Manu Vatuvei (both hamstring) as a precaution.

The three replacements - Adam Blair, Sam Perrett and Jason Nightingale - all stood up to push their claims for future selection.

Nightingale, called into the squad only after fullback Brent Webb was ruled out by injury, also grabbed two tries.

Tonga had promised plenty with a starting 13 who had all played NRL football and containing four former New Zealand or Australian internationals.

They also had loud support in the stands, but they found themselves largely outgunned on the pitch.

Coach Jim Dymock said the result would act as a good reality check, after Tonga had been built up as one of the teams to watch at the World Cup.

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