Happy Benji unfazed by Kiwis snub
Benji Marshall says more than anything else he is just happy the Dragons are playing good football – and is refusing to be disappointed about having been told even injuries won't get him back in the Test frame for New Zealand.
Incumbent Kiwi halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran helped the Kiwis to the 2014 Four Nations title but Foran has only played one game back from a hamstring injury for Manly after also missing two games earlier in the season with the same ailment.
Marshall told NRL.com that New Zealand coach Steve Kearney told him he wouldn't be selected even if Foran was unavailable but insists there are no hard feelings.
"It's not disappointing. Steve's actually called me and I can understand picking the two young guys ahead of me. If one of them were injured I thought I'd be next in line but it's not to be.
"He still told me he's not going to pick me even if Kieran doesn't play. I'm just looking forward to a week off man, it's been a tough eight weeks and I'll just sit back and relax."
That week off has come at a good time for an impressive Dragons side that is now on a six-match winning run and sharing the competition lead with the Broncos.
"I think it's come at the right time – the boys, the amount of commitment and enthusiasm and effort everyone's put in, I think we need it," Marshall said.
Marshall's form has been just one component – albeit a key one – of the Red V's recent success, but his masterful control of the wet conditions and pinpoint kicking game was enough to earn him the prestigious Ashton-Collier medal for man-of-the-match in the big Anzac clash against the Roosters.
However Marshall played down his own role, and instead lauded the team's performance as a great tribute to not just the Anzacs but also long-serving captain Ben Creagh in his 250th NRL game.
"It's great to put in a performance like that for the people that have served our countries and put us in the position we are, and for Ben Creagh's 250th as well. He's such a legend of our club, highly respected within the team and a great guy off the field," Marshall said.
"We've got a bit of belief; the most pleasing thing is to hold a side like the Roosters to as many points as what we did. We just found a way to win, they could have scored there at the end but we just found a way again."
He said he feels he and halves partner Gareth Widdop are really hitting their straps as a playmaking combination and are sharing the load more evenly now.
"I thought Gareth contributed to that [performance] as well. Between me and him, I thought it was one of our best games.
"We try to get an even share of possession. I really feel Gareth's stepped up and taken ownership of the left edge there and when we were under pressure he relieved our pressure with his kicking game. I've copped a lot of the credit but our forwards have been pretty outstanding and without their efforts we can't do it."
On his own form – which has silenced plenty of doubters since his return from an unsuccessful stint in rugby coming up to 12 months ago – Marshall said he's not interested in trying to prove anyone wrong.
"I just try and do my job for the team and at the moment everyone in the team is doing their job which makes my job easy. I'm just happy mate, it's good to be happy and enjoying playing with a good bunch of guys."