Veteran playmaker Benji Marshall has hit out at Jason Taumalolo for being "disrespectful" to the Kiwis jersey, after the Cowboys star quit the World Cup squad to link with Tonga.
Marshall told Veitchy on Sport he was confused as to why Taumalolo had made the decision, and he also criticised Taumalolo for making the change so close to the tournament.
The 32-year-old Marshall said Kiwis players are split over coach David Kidwell's decision to ban Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor from World Cup selection.
He told Veitchy on Sport new captain Adam Blair supported Kidwell's stance while Marshall - who played for the Broncos this year - feels the ban has gone too far.
Marshall said events of the past few days were "embarrassing for the game" and he described the rule allowing Taumalolo to switch camps this year as "bizarre".
It is understood that Taumalolo informed the Kiwis by text message this week he was switching to Tonga.
Marshall, who has played 27 tests, said: "I don't really care what the reasons were and why he is not wearing the Kiwis jumper. For me, it is an honour and privilege you grow up dreaming of," he told Veitchy on Sport.
"I just don't know what part of society has changed that you all of a sudden decide three weeks out from the World Cup you are not playing.
"It's just a bit disrespectful to the jersey when you've been part of the team for a certain amount of time. If you really think that, the decision could have been made seven or eight weeks ago.
"It is an honour to wear the jersey. It doesn't matter what the excuses are, you shouldn't be allowed to to-and-fro and choose, to say I don't want to play this year but I'll play next year.
"Jason feels like he has the right. If you were in the All Blacks environment you wouldn't dare - I don't know why we feel like we can make these decisions," he told Veitchy on Sport.
Marshall said he was among Australian-based players "praying" for selection. He had called Kidwell who told Marshall that his non-selection was nothing personal.
Bromwich and Proctor were axed from World Cup calculations after they were caught in possession of an illegal drug following the loss to Australia in Canberra five months ago.
Marshall said Kiwi players were split on the ban. Marshall felt the ban went too far, considering the pair had already been punished through suspensions and fines by their NRL clubs.
"They've done their time for the crime, that was more than fair enough," he told Veitchy on Sport.
"I don't think the country deserved to be punished with two of our best players being sat down.
"There was a mixed reaction (from other players)...I know Adam Blair was pretty adamant with that punishment.
"Obviously on the back of a couple of tours we've had prescription drug allegations problems, drinking culture problems. I can see why they are trying to take a stance.
"He (Blair) has been through the tours where a lot of those things took place...he was sick of some of those things happening.
"I can see it from David and the NZRL's point of view, they want to take a stand and make a strong impact. They are standing strong saying this is our culture.
"But punishing the country for something that has already been dealt with by the clubs is a little bit harsh. I can see where they are coming from but I think the punishment the boys served from their clubs, missing games and a fair portion of their salary - case closed there."
Marshall is also surprised at veteran hooker's Issac Luke's probable omission, saying he was "part of the heart and soul" of the Kiwis.
"Sure, he didn't have a great season but the Warriors as a whole didn't - does that exclude everyone else from the Warriors?" he said.
"I feel sorry for Issac - he's so passionate, he'll be hurting. I think the brotherhood is still there - the boys will have to step up now."