Benji Marshall to captain Kiwis - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Benji Marshall to captain Kiwis

By Tom Wald 03/05/2009 05:33:35 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall has been named to captain world champions New Zealand in Friday night's rugby league Test against Australia at Suncorp Stadium.

Marshall, who didn't play for the Tigers against the Bulldogs on Sunday because of illness, gained the captaincy of an 18-man squad named on Sunday ahead of South Sydney's Roy Asotasi who had been fancied for the role.

The Kiwis selectors were to meet later on Sunday evening to consider medical reports on St George Illawarra's Jeremy Smith and Penrith's Frank Pritchard, who suffered injuries in weekend NRL matches, before confirming the squad.

Marshall takes over the captaincy from Nathan Cayless, who announced his retirement from international football last month after leading New Zealand to November's World Cup final win over the Kangaroos in Brisbane.

Marshall made his debut as Kiwi captain in New Zealand's 36-24 pool game victory over England in Newcastle during the World Cup.

"We're lucky to have plenty of natural leaders in our group," said Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney.

"It was a huge honour for Benji to lead his country against England and it was job he really took to.

"This is another step. Benji enjoys the extra responsibility and he'll have plenty of leadership support around him from the likes of Roy, Jeremy and others."

Injuries had restricted Marshall to only three Tests - all one-off Anzac Tests - before the World Cup but he appeared in six straight internationals in as many weeks in last year's tournament.

The selectors opted not to bring halfback Thomas Leuluai back from English Super League.

"We just felt it's too difficult bringing players back from the Super League for a one-off Test here so this time we have considered players from English clubs," said Kearney.

Kiwis squad: Roy Asotasi, Adam Blair, Greg Eastwood, David Fa'alogo Nathan Fien, Bronson Harrison, Lance Hohaia, Jeff Lima, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Benji Marshall (capt), Jason Nightingale, Sam Perrett, Frank Pritchard, Jerome Ropati, Jeremy Smith, Iosia Soliola, Manu Vatuvei.

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