NRL: Benji wants Kiwi World Cup swansong

Benji Marshall is hoping he can round off his glittering rugby league career with a second World Cup triumph for New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.
Benji Marshall is hoping he can round off his glittering rugby league career with a second World Cup triumph for New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.

Benji Marshall is hoping he can round off his glittering rugby league career with a second World Cup triumph for New Zealand, if given the green light to take part in the tournament in the United Kingdom later this year.

The 28-year-old, who played a starring role in the Kiwis' stunning win over Australia in the 2008 World Cup final in Brisbane, is set to leave the Wests Tigers at the end of the NRL season to take up a career in rugby union.

Although he's yet to agree terms with a Super Rugby team, Marshall will walk away from the joint-venture after requesting an early release from his contract following a dispute over an upgraded agreement he'd hoped would net him $1m a season.

However, Marshall said on Thursday the opportunity to play in one last rugby league tournament for the Kiwis would be something he couldn't to turn down if coach Stephen Kearney came knocking.

But he acknowledged there could be an issue as he'll be without a rugby league club contract, despite his picture adorning advertising posters for the World Cup in the UK.

"I am not too sure what the situation is regarding that and need to speak to Steve to find out if I am entitled to play or not,'' Marshall said.

"I am proud Kiwi and won the last World Cup and would love to do it again.

"I am probably not playing well enough at the moment to get in the team, but if I can find form over the next few games, and the rules permit then hopefully I am allowed to play.''

It's believed the Rugby League International Federation would rule on the World Cup eligibility of any player without a club deal - something that could also affect fellow Kiwi star Sonny Bill Williams if he has not done a new deal with the Sydney Roosters.

Marshall said he's no closer to deciding where he rugby union future lies, and has had no further discussions with Auckland Blues coach John Kirwan.

The NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels have also expressed lukewarm interest in the 2005 NRL premiership winner, but Marshall insists he unconcerned about what the future has in store.

"It's always good to have options, but I have six weeks left here and that is my priority at the moment,'' he said.

"I am not too worried about finding a contract because that will happen.

"I spoke to John Kirwan on the phone a few weeks back, but until I make a decision on what I want to do, there is not much to say.''

-AAP

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