A year after his rugby union experiment fizzled out, Benji Marshall is lining up to wear the Kiwis jersey again.
The drums are beating for the in-form Marshall’s Test career to be revived at the Anzac Test in Brisbane next week.
A hamstring injury suffered by Manly half Kieran Foran may force New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney to seek out a play-making partner for halfback Shaun Johnson.
The obvious solution would be Marshall, 30, who on Thursday will bring up one year since the release from his Super Rugby contract with the Blues.
He played out the 2014 NRL season with St George Illawarra and has lifted his game considerably this season with the Dragons, leading them to a share of the competition lead after seven rounds.
Marshall’s defence has improved considerably and he admits to benefiting from a more mature on-field approach, having felt pressure during a decade at the Wests Tigers to unleash match-winning deeds in every game.
Former Kiwis skipper Marshall told News Corp Australia there have been times when he thought the chance of adding to his 27 Test caps had vanished.
“It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t make it, but I would love to play for my country again,” he said.
“You never give up hoping. Of course I would love the opportunity and it would mean I was doing my job here if I did happen to be selected.”
Even if Foran is fit, the selectors may consider shifting him into the forward pack or at least fielding Marshall as a game-breaking interchange utility.
Other injuries have created other issues for Kearney, who will name his team on Sunday, five days out from the May 1 Test.
From last year’s Four Nations-winning side, wing Jason Nightingale (foot), centre Dean Whare (hamstring) and forward Lewis Brown (ribs) are unlikely to be available.
Prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is out of contention with a chest injury.
Sydney Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who like Waerea-Hargreaves wasn’t considered for the Four Nations, is a strong candidate to replace Nightingale.
Warriors pair Konrad Hurrell and Solomone Kata are candidates to slot into centre, along with Cronulla’s Gerard Beale.