Cleary backs Marshall for Test recall
After a return to the Wests Tigers that has taken the Telstra Premiership by storm, Benji Marshall deserves to be in the frame for a Test recall in the mid-year England-New Zealand Denver Test, according to Tigers coach Ivan Cleary.
Although Marshall hasn't run out in a Kiwi jersey since 2012, his early-season form proves he would still be up to the task if given the opportunity.
"You'd think [his chances of a recall] would have to be fairly good," Cleary said.
"I'm not picking the team but he's certainly passionate about the Kiwis and he's playing well so if he keeps that up he'd surely have to be in the running there somewhere."
With the club and Marshall yet to have a conversation around a contract extension, Cleary said with the form he is showing at the moment there is no reason why Marshall won't be the club's five-eighth next year.
"We haven't gone there yet. I think Benji is just enjoying his footy. He's obviously in good form," Cleary said.
"I think he's rediscovering his old confidence. There is no reason why he couldn't keep going, but at the end of the day it's up to Benji [if he wants to play on]."
Cleary said his team is showing confidence but there have been no signs of complacency through their unexpected 5-1 start to the season.
"It's been business as usual," he said.
"You can definitely see the confidence but that's really good, you can't fake that, that's part of what they've developed.
"That started in November when we started training and that intensity has been there consistently and that's what we've got to keep doing."
The Tigers head out to the country to host the Newcastle Knights on Saturday night at Scully Park in Tamworth. They will be looking for their fourth consecutive win when they come up against what Cleary said will be another tough challenge against a revamped Newcastle side.
"I think they are really dangerous. Their attack looks pretty sharp and they've got plenty of good players in there," Cleary said.
"They've recruited really well over the last couple of years of going through that developing phase. Some guys have plenty of first grade under their belts.
"It's easy to see they've improved a lot and they're going to prove a big challenge for us."