Former captain Benji Marshall has been overlooked once again by the Kiwis’ selectors, missing out on a place in their wider squad to prepare for the tour of England.
St George Illawarra wing Jason Nightingale and South Sydney pair Issac Luke and Bryson Goodwin were added to the squad on Friday following the elimination of their teams from the NRL finals.
However, there is no room for veteran Dragons halfback Marshall, with a New Zealand Rugby League statement saying the selectors want to build for the future.
Marshall, 30, played the last of his 27 Tests in 2012. He hasn’t had a look-in since under head coach Stephen Kearney, who has preferred Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran in the halves.
Marshall limped out of the Dragons’ golden-point loss to the Bulldogs in Sydney last Saturday and his ankle injury may have ruled him out of the three-Test tour of England in November anyway.
However, the statement said Marshall’s fitness wasn’t a consideration in his omission.
“Regardless of his fitness, the Kiwis selectors will take the opportunity to develop depth in the halves, with a view to the future.”
Kearney will need to uncover another option at halfback, with Johnson ruled out by a broken ankle suffered in July.
His wider squad has swelled to 18 through the addition of Nightingale, Luke and Goodwin, who share 68 Test caps between them.
Nightingale and Luke were part of this year’s Anzac Test win over Australia while utility back Goodwin’s last appearance was the 2013 World Cup final.
KIWIS WIDER 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)