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Marshall dashed at loss of captaincy

Benji Marshall ... stripped of the New Zealand captaincy.

Benji Marshall ... stripped of the New Zealand captaincy. Photo: Getty Images

BENJI MARSHALL says he is disappointed at being stripped of the New Zealand captaincy, but maintains the decision will not alter his desire to win the World Cup with the Kiwis at the end of this year.

Marshall, the Wests Tigers five-eighth who helped the Kiwis to a World Cup triumph in 2008, was relieved of the captaincy by coach Stephen Kearney, who said the decision was made in the best interests of the team.

Marshall said it was a decision that ‘‘I’m just going to have to live with’’.

‘‘Obviously it’s disappointing,’’ he said. ‘‘You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel some sort of disappointment at not being able to captain your country again. The decision was Steve’s and the New Zealand Rugby League’s, and it’s just a decision I’m just going to have to live with. At the end of the day, I’m still an integral part of the New Zealand rugby league team. I’ve still got a job to do to help in the World Cup. That’s not going to change.

‘‘Not having a ‘C’ next to my name is going to be different, but that’s not going to change me as a person or as a leader. If anything, I’m just going to have to be more up front and lead from the front a bit more, without having the captaincy. It’s not the end of the world. The decision’s been made, and we all have to move on. That starts with me.

‘‘It was the proudest moment of my career, captaining my country.

‘‘I was lucky enough that I got to break the record for most caps as Kiwi captain. But I’ve still got a job to do for the New Zealand Rugby League and that’s to win the World Cup.’’

Kearney, who informed Marshall this week he would no longer lead the squad, will name a new captain on Friday.

‘‘It was a very tough conversation,’’ Kearney said. ‘‘Benji is an immensely proud New Zealander, and his desire was to continue in the captaincy role.

‘‘Although this decision has been a difficult one, it has been made in the best interests of the team and Benji will remain an integral part of the Kiwis going forward.’’

NZRL general manager of high performance, Tony Kemp, said he believed the decision would ultimately help Marshall, as well as the team. ‘‘Because of who he is, he carries a massive workload for rugby league in general,’’ Kemp said.

‘‘Our respect for him is immense, and we appreciate that he’s hurting now, but we believe this decision will ultimately lift some weight from Benji and give the Kiwis every opportunity to defend the Rugby League World Cup.’’

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