Benji Marshall eyes Kiwis recall for Four Nations
The last thing on Benji Marshall's mind upon his NRL return was a Test recall but that seems less far-fetched after a chat with New Zealand coach Steve Kearney.
Marshall appeared on the nose with the Kiwis when first stripped of the captaincy and then left out of the 2013 World Cup squad after his defection to Super Rugby franchise Auckland Blues.
And even cutting it at NRL level initially seemed a challenge for the 29-year-old playmaker based on his wobbly early outings for new club St George Illawarra on his return mid-season.
However, a chat last week with Kearney has a rejuvenated Marshall hopeful of an end-of-season Four Nations series call-up, two years after he last donned the black and white for the Kiwis.
The stage was set for an awkward conversation when Marshall approached Broncos assistant Kearney after Brisbane's 30-22 last round NRL win over St George Illawarra.
But Marshall said there were no hard feelings.
''I am past that. It's something that happened over a year ago,'' he said of his 2013 dumping as skipper by Kearney.
''I am more worried about representing New Zealand - I grew up dreaming of that and hopefully I get the opportunity to do it again.''
And it seems breaking the ice with Kearney didn't hurt his Four Nations chances.
''We didn't really talk about that [Four Nations] too much, it was more about how I was going and how I was feeling and seeing if I was happy,'' he said.
''Hopefully that leads to being selected but if it doesn't it's not the end of the world for me.''
An in-form Marshall will cap a remarkable NRL comeback following his ill-fated rugby sojourn when the 11th-placed Dragons travel to Newcastle (12th) on Sunday, albeit in a clash that will have no impact on the top eight's make-up.
Marshall - who skippered New Zealand a record 19 times in his 27 Tests - admitted playing for the Kiwis was not even in the back of his mind upon his NRL return in May.
''My focus was playing good footy and getting back to enjoying it,'' he said.
''I feel like I am there now so whatever happens with the New Zealand squad happens.
''But I feel I am building in confidence and that my experience can help there [in the Four Nations].''