Benji Marshall is keeping the door open for a Kiwis recall, although he admits he doesn't want to get in the way of the young brigade.
Marshall enjoyed a sparkling return to the NRL in Brisbane's Magic Round on Friday night, after more than a month out with injury, playing a prominent role in the Wests Tigers' 30-4 demolition of the Panthers.
His kicking game was on song — including a massive 40-20 — and his appreciation of angles and ability to read the play was key to the Tigers' lightning start, as they scored five tries in the first 17 minutes.
Marshall has completed three NRL games this year for three Tigers wins, and his display on Friday was another reminder of his enduring qualities.
The 34-year-old was in the frame for the Kiwis tour squad to England last year but pulled himself out of contention with a calf complaint.
Marshall played the last of his 26 tests in October 2012 but remains fiercely passionate about representing his country.
"The one thing I will never say is no to a Kiwis jumper," Marshall told the Herald on Sunday. "I'll always be available, no matter what. At the same time, I'm aware there is a World Cup coming up and a lot of combinations we need to get right and decide who is going to lead us into that World Cup. I don't expect Madge [Kiwis coach Michael Maguire] to pick me ... but if he needs me to play, of course I will."
The prospect of the 33-year-old Marshall being involved — either against Tonga next month or during the end-of-year schedule — isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.
Kodi Nikorima has nailed down one spot, especially after his impressive displays on the Kiwis tour.
Shaun Johnson is the obvious contender for the other but it depends on his recovery from a hamstring strain.
Kieran Foran has struggled with injuries and form, Te Maire Martin is sidelined with a minor bleed on the brain and Parramatta's Dylan Brown is also out for an extended period.
With 293 NRL games behind him, Marshall offers experience and leadership, an expert kicking game and a flair for the unexpected.
He says his renaissance was built during a rigorous off-season, while a new leadership responsibility at the Tigers has sharpened the sword.
"I had a pretty good pre-season in terms of getting fit and mentally prepared," said Marshall.
"My role in the team is a lot to do with leadership, on and off the field, I'm really thriving on that ... obviously being a dad is a big part as well."
Maguire says any decisions around Marshall will be made closer to the selection deadlines but doesn't exclude the possibility.
"I'll assess that when we get closer and I'll talk to Benji about that," said Maguire.
"He is definitely one player that would love to be able to play in that jersey again.
"The Kiwis jersey is very special to him and we talk about that all the time.
"It's great to have a senior player like him around to talk about the experiences that he has had and what we want to do in the Kiwis jersey."