The treatment of former Kiwis captain Benji Marshall by coach Stephen Kearney and the Kiwis is appalling.
They have belittled one of the best Kiwi players to have played for the side in the past decade by refusing to select him when every other international player has fallen over injured. It has gone beyond a coach not picking a guy due to a lack of form – this is a personal decision surely.
Kiwis starters Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran and Thomas Leuluai are unavailable for the three-test tour of England due to injury. Instead of selecting Marshall, who featured prominently on the Dally M NRL Player of the Year leader board earlier in the week, Kearney has opted to pick rookies, players that haven’t even played first grade let alone international football and will play players out of position rather than pick the former Golden Boot winner.
What message does that send to Marshall? Kearney will talk about blooding players for the future and I support him in doing that but to a degree. To select players like Te Maire Martin, Manaia Cherrington, Matt McIllwrick, Kodi Nikorima and Tuimoala Lolohea – players that have either not played first grade, not played in the halves in first grade or have only a handful of experience there ahead of a guy who was a candidate to be named the NRL’s best player in 2015 is Kearney completely thumbing his nose at Marshall. If you want to blood young players – would there be a better role model for them in the squad than Marshall?
Marshall captained his country – led them to a Four Nations title and played a significant role in the 2008 World Cup victory. This is the thanks he gets for his troubles.
The Kiwis have worked hard to build a reputation that sees them rightly be called the best team in the world. But this sort of petty carry on is not a good look.
Kearney’s Kiwis better win the three-test series in England otherwise he will have some serious explaining to do.