1 Oct 2015

No room for Benji again

6:51 pm on 1 October 2015

Benji Marshall has once again been overlooked in the New Zealand Kiwis squad for the upcoming rugby league tour of England, despite five-eighth Kieran Foran withdrawing with injury.

Benji Marshall looks to have played his last game in the Kiwis jersey

Benji Marshall looks to have played his last game in the Kiwis jersey Photo: Photosport

Foran's now officially joined the Parramatta Eels from the Manly Sea Eagles, and the Eels medical staff weren't happy about his elbow injury that has troubled him for much of the season, so he's opted to skip the Kiwis tour to have off-season rehabilitation.

That might have opened the door for former captain and playmaker Marshall, but once again - just as when New Zealand Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson broke his ankle - the 30-year-old Dragons playmaker's missed out.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney may now be missing both his top halves, but that hasn't changed his mind on Marshall.

Kearney said he's adamant he's building for the future.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney and captain Benji Marshall, Four Nations - New Zealand Kiwis v England at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 23 October 2010. Photo: Dave Lintott / photosport.co.nz

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney and now-former captain Benji Marshall Photo: Photosport

Potential halves options include Tuimoala Lolohea, Peta Hiku and Kodi Nikorima, who's still involved with the Broncos in Sunday's NRL grand final.

Kearney said his rookie halves combination will be fine given their forward pack's strength - as well as star fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and hooker Issac Luke able to help out with playmaking options - and Marshall was still not an option.

The coach has brought three more newcomers in Matt McKilwrick, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Isaac Liu into his train-on squad for the October/November tour.

The Sydney Roosters trio are among nine players added to the extended group, after their teams were knocked out of the NRL playoffs last week.

Hooker McKilwrick is originally from the Halswell Hornets in Christchurch and transferred to Sydney from the Canberra Raiders this season. With first-string hooker Jake Friend initially sidelined, McKilwrick began the season as the Roosters starter.

Second rower Taukeiaho played his junior football with Otara Scorpions and spent time with the Warriors, before joining the Roosters and playing a prominent role, mainly off the interchange bench, as they took out the Minor Premiership.

Lock Liu also hails from Auckland, playing for the Otahuhu Leopards, and has three international caps for Toa Samoa to his credit.

Club-mates Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sam Moa have also joined the squad, along with Melbourne Storm players Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor.

This week's additions bring the number of Kiwis candidates to 31, with several more involved in Sunday's NRL Grand Final between Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys.

The touring squad of 23 players will be named on Thursday, October 8.

New Zealand train-on group:

Gerard Beale (Cronulla Sharks), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tigers), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tohu Harris (Melbourne Storm), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Solomone Kata (NZ Warriors), Shaun Kenny-Dowell (Sydney Roosters), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters), Tuimoala Lolohea (NZ Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Te Maire Martin (Wests Tigers), Ben Matulino (NZ Warriors), Manu Ma'u (Parramatta Eels), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Matt McKilwrick (Sydney Roosters), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Dragons), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Curtis Rona (Canterbury Bulldogs), Tim Simona (Wests Tigers), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Elijah Taylor (Penrith Panthers), Bodene Thompson (NZ Warriors), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)

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