Benji Marshall's hopes of making the Kiwis end of year tour to England have been dashed with Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney opting to develop depth in the halves rather than fall back on the former New Zealand captain's experience.
Marshall remains under a fitness cloud after his NRL season ended when he suffered an ankle injury in St George-Illawarra's elimination final defeat to the Canterbury Bulldogs last Saturday.
The 30-year-old is set to undergo scans once the swelling in his ankle has subsided, but regardless of whether he is cleared of any serious damage or not, the Kiwis have declared Marshall's services surplus to requirements.
"Regardless of his fitness, the Kiwis selectors will take the opportunity to develop depth in the halves, with a view to the future," the New Zealand Rugby League announced in a press release today.
The release also confirmed three players - Dragons wing Jason Nightingale, and South Sydney Rabbitohs pair Issac Luke and Bryson Goodwin - have been added to the Kiwis train-on squad ahead of their four-match tour of England in October-November.
Their inclusion brings the training group to 18 players, after their teams were eliminated from the NRL Premiership race over the weekend.
Luke and Goodwin take their places after the reigning premiers bowed out in last Sunday's 28-12 elimination-final defeat to Cronulla.
Together the trio have compiled 68 tests in the black-and-white jersey - Goodwin 10, Luke 33 and Nightingale 25.
The latter two were part of this year's Anzac Test triumph over Australia, while Goodwin's last appearance was in the 2013 World Cup final defeat to the Kangaroos.
With incumbent halfback Shaun Johnson (ankle) and utility Thomas Leuluai (knee) both out for the year with injuries, Marshall was seen as a strong chance to earn a recall after playing his last test back in 2012.
Despite the perception that he was on the outer with Kearney, Marshall was included in a group of Sydney-based Kiwis contenders that came together for a meeting earlier this year.
However, today's announcement means the 2008 World Cup and 2010 Four Nations winner is unlikely to add to his 27 test appearances.
Warriors Rookie of the Year Tui Lolohea stepped into the halfback role for five NRL matches following Johnson's injury, and he and young Brisbane Broncos utility Kodi Nikorima now loom as options to partner Kiwis five-eighth Kieran Foran.
The Kiwis will begin their tour with a match against Leeds Rhinos at Headingley Carnegie in Leeds on October 23.
The first of three tests against England will be played at KC Stadium in Hull on November 1, with the second test at London's Olympic Stadium on November 7, and the final encounter at Wigan's DW Stadium on November 14.
The wider Kiwis group consists of about 40 players and more will be named over the next three weeks as their NRL seasons end.
Train-on camps will begin next week in Auckland and Sydney, with the 23-strong touring side to be announced soon after the NRL Premiership Grand Final on October 4.
Kiwis train-on squad: Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tigers), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles), Solomone Kata (NZ Warriors), Tuimoala Lolohea (NZ Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Ben Matulino (NZ Warriors), Manu Ma'u (Parramatta Eels), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Jason Nightingale (St George Dragons), Tim Simona (Wests Tigers), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Elijah Taylor (Penrith Panthers), Bodene Thompson (NZ Warriors), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)