League: Marshall stripped of Kiwis captaincy

Benji Marshall.
Benji Marshall.
A new Kiwis skipper will be named tomorrow after Benji Marshall was stripped of the captaincy.

The decision to take the leadership off Marshall was made to give the playmaker every shot of being at his best at the Rugby League World Cup later this year.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney spoke with Marshall this week and said it was a "very tough conversation".

"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," he said.

Marshall has been captain of the Kiwis since Nathan Cayless retired from internationals in 2009. Ther Tigers playmaker led the side to the Four Nations title in 2010 with a victory over Australia in the final.

Since then the Kiwis have won just one of their last six matches including four straight defeats to Australia.

"Because of who he is, he carries a massive workload for rugby league in general," said Tony Kemp, the NZRL's General Manager of High Performance.

"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."

A new captain will be named at a press conference at 9am tomorrow. Their first match in charge will be the Anzac test against Australia in Canberra on April 19.

 - nzherald.co.nz