New Blues recruit Benji Marshall has ruled himself out of playing in New Zealand's defence of the Rugby League World Cup.
New Blues recruit Benji Marshall has ruled himself out of playing in New Zealand's defence of the Rugby League World Cup in England next month as he focuses on his rugby union career.
Marshall's name was the most notable omission when a 17-man Kiwi training squad was named Wednesday. The squad was chosen from clubs that will not feature in Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) play-offs.
The 28-year-old playmaker recently ended a celebrated decade-long relationship with Wests Tigers in the NRL where he became the club's all-time leading points scorer.
He will join up with the Blues for the 2014 Super Rugby season with hopes of making the 2015 rugby union World Cup and the 2016 New Zealand rugby sevens Olympic team.
Although New Zealand league convenor of selectors Tony Iro wanted Marshall available for his World Cup squad in England and Wales, he said the player ruled himself out because of his impending code switch.
“We're naturally disappointed to not have Benji available for World Cup selection, but we understand the circumstances and wish him well,” Iro said.
“He was a key part of the Kiwis team that won New Zealand's first ever Rugby League World Cup in 2008 and he followed that up with a starring role, as captain, in our 2010 Four Nations win.
“He'll be missed, but we believe we have players in the halves that are ready to deliver in this World Cup tournament.”
Marshall debuted for the Kiwis in 2005 and played 27 Tests, including 19 as captain.
The New Zealand World Cup squad of 24 will be named on October 8 and they open their title defence on October 27 in Warrington against Samoa.