Marshall eyes off World Cup spot
Former Kiwis skipper Benji Marshall believes he still has what it takes to represent his country and has made himself available for World Cup selection at the end of the year.
The 32-year-old hasn't played for New Zealand since 2012 but is keen to add to his 27 international caps, and given his form for the Brisbane Broncos in recent weeks, it appears as though he still has plenty to offer for both club and country.
Marshall - who scored a try in New Zealand's shock 2008 World Cup victory at Suncorp Stadium - hasn't spoken to Kiwis coach David Kidwell about a possible return to the national side and knows he will be hard-pressed trying to oust incumbent halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran.
Speaking after his try-scoring effort in Brisbane's 18-16 loss to the Roosters on Saturday night, Marshall said his main focus was on doing a job for coach Wayne Bennett, with his Broncos form the best way to impress national selectors.
"I'm never going to rule myself out of contention for the Kiwis and I still honestly believe I've got what it takes to play at that level. I don't know where the coaches or selectors sit with that, but I'm available," Marshall said.
"The thing with me is I want to prove myself here first, and I suppose if I can play well enough here and prove that, maybe there's an opportunity. But Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran are a pretty solid halves combination, but if I can get on the tour as part of the squad, I'd love to.
"I've been asked to commentate so I don't know if that's a sign!"
Whether or not he makes the World Cup squad, Marshall said the decision to appoint Adam Blair as Kiwis captain was a masterstroke and one that was a long time coming.
"In my personal opinion, I think he's the perfect guy for the job, and I have thought that for the past couple of years," he said.
"You won't find a guy with more passion for playing for his country and more professional when it comes to that side of the game. He does all the little things, he's not scared to say if someone's not pulling their weight and I think he sets a great culture; not only at club but also for New Zealand.
"He trains like he plays, which is very hard to do. From my point of view, I think he'll set a great culture and leadership for the up-and-coming Kiwis."
The pair played together at the Wests Tigers where Blair was often made the scapegoat for their poor performances due to his hefty price tag. They have since reunited at the Broncos and Marshall believes the change of scenery has worked wonders for the ball-playing front-rower.
"I think there was a lot of pressure there at the Tigers, and when you're not surrounded by a lot of great players like he is here, you've got to take it to another level," Marshall said.
"I think with all the great players here, it's taken all the pressure off him. Wayne doesn't put any pressure on him and I think he's taken the leadership role here under his wing. I think he's been one of our best all year."