Four months after making his international comeback following a seven-year absence, halfback Benji Marshall will now captain the New Zealand Kiwis for the first time since 2012 in a record 20th Test as skipper in Friday night’s Oceania Cup match against the Kangaroos at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
Head coach Michael Maguire announced the appointment in Sydney today as the Kiwis began their preparation for the encounter after Saturday night’s loss to Australia in the World Cup 9s tournament.
Marshall wasn’t used in the short-form game to prepare for the end-of-season Test campaign which continues after this week’s match with two clashes against the Great Britain Lions in Auckland on November 2 and Christchurch on November 9.
He replaces the unavailable Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who led the Kiwis in their last five Tests against Australia, England and Tonga.
Marshall’s 29th Test since his debut in 2005 will take him ahead of Gary Freeman for the most Tests as Kiwi captain. They were level on 19 after Marshall was captain in the 10-18 loss to the Kangaroos in Townsville in October, 2012.
The 26-year-old Whakatane-born standoff led the Kiwis for the first time when he stood in for an injured Nathan Cayless against England in Newcastle during the triumphant 2008 Rugby League World Cup campaign.
When Cayless retired from representative football in early 2009, coach Stephen Kearney gave the captaincy to the then 24-year-old Wests Tigers playmaker.