Cook Islands rep Esan Marsters broke into the New Zealand Test team little more than a year after his NRL debut for Wests Tigers.
The Mount Albert Lions product initially crossed the Tasman to play for Sydney Roosters’ SG Ball team in 2014, before scoring 24 tries in 39 under-20s games for the Tigers in 2015-16. At just 18, he turned out for Cook Islands against Tonga at the end of 2015, while he represented the Junior Kiwis the following season.
The big-bodied centre crossed for a try in Cook Islands’ 32-22 Pacific Test loss to Papua New Guinea in May 2017 and was called up for his maiden taste of first grade less than a month later. Boasting impressive footwork for his size and tremendous power, he scored five tries in 13 rookie-season outings for the Tigers.
Marsters assumed the Tigers’ goalkicking duties in 2018 and was one of seven debutants named for New Zealand’s Denver Test assignment against England. He marked the occasion with a try as one of the Kiwis’ standout performers in the 36-18 loss.
The 22-year-old retained a centre spot for all four post-season Tests against Australia and England, dotting down again in the 26-24 upset of the Kangaroos at Mt Smart and the series-opening loss in Hull. Marsters averaged a staggering 155 run metres across his five international outings in 2018.
Marsters slotted five goals in the Kiwis’ 34-14 defeat of Tonga midway through 2019. Although he played all 24 games for the Tigers for the second straight season – again topping 100 points – Marsters was ruled out of the end-of-year Tests with injury, while he was granted a release to join North Queensland ahead of 2020.
He represented Māori All Stars against Indigenous All Stars during the 2020 pre-season but was restricted to 12 NRL appearances in a tough transition season at the Cowboys.