Benji Marshall's move to rugby means he'll miss New Zealand's defence of the league world cup in the Northern Hemisphere later this year.
Marshall, a 27-test veteran, was one of two players labelled unavailable as a 17-strong Kiwis train-on squad was released today for those not involved in the NRL playoffs.
The other was Gerard Beale, who is out with a knee injury.
Kiwis convenor of selectors Tony Iro said Marshall told the selectors his impending move to Sir John Kirwan's Blues for next year's Super Rugby season would rule him out of the world cup.
"We're naturally disappointed to not have Benji available ... but we understand the circumstances and wish him well,'' said Iro.
"He'll always be a Kiwi brother and he has done wonders not only for rugby league in New Zealand, but the game in general.
"Benji stood proud as a New Zealander at a time when there was plenty of interest in convincing him to commit elsewhere.
His dedication to his country set an example to those coming through.
"He was a key part of the Kiwis team that won New Zealand's first ever rugby league world cup in 2008 and he followed that up with a starring role, as captain, in our 2010 four nations win.
"He'll be missed, but we believe we have players in the halves that are ready to deliver in this world cup tournament.''
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson and Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran shape as the likely halves pairing for New Zealand at the global tournament.
The national selectors - Iro, Richie Barnett, Ivan Cleary, Stephen Kearney and Tawera Nikau - will add to the squad in the coming weeks as teams are eliminated from the NRL finals.
A final world cup squad of 24 will be named on October 8. The squad has a warm-up game against the Cook Islands in Doncaster on October 20, before they open their World Cup defence against Samoa in Warrington on October 27.
Meanwhile, Brent Gemmell has been appointed the coach of the Junior Kiwis. Gemmell, who is currently assistant coach of the Auckland Vulcans, has an extensive background in domestic rugby league having coached the New Zealand Residents team for the last two years. He'd earlier won a Bartercard Cup with the Auckland Lions and coached junior rugby league in Bay of Plenty and Northland.
Gemmell takes over as Junior Kiwis coach from John Ackland following his decision to join the NZRL in the fulltime role of national game development manager.
Kelvin Wright will be Gemmell's assistant coach. Wright is currently assistant coach of the Junior Warriors. Other Junior Kiwis appointments confirmed today are Andy Flint - the head trainer of the Auckland Vulcans - as trainer and John Love as physiotherapist.
Love is in his third year working with the Junior Warriors and will also support the Kiwis during their world cup campaign.
The Junior Kiwis play the Junior Kangaroos on Sunday, October 13, at WIN Jubilee Oval in Sydney.
* Kiwis train-on squad for the World Cup: Alex Glenn, Josh Hoffman, Bronson Harrison, Jason Nightingale, Lewis Brown, Sam McKendry, Dean Whare, Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Kevin Locke, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Sam Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei, Adam Blair, Tim Simona
Unavailable: Gerard Beale, Benji Marshall