Requiring a shoulder reconstruction in the off season, Benji is faced with the decision to either hold off and play in the tri nations or go ahead as planned under the knife ASAP.
I'm tipping a tigers influence will keep Benji out of the tri nations
Surgery may keep Benji from NZ squad
October 3, 2005 - 9:59PM
Wests Tigers premiership five-eighth Benji Marshall has been named in New Zealand's Tri Nations squad - but coach Brian McClennan won't know the star's availability until Tuesday.
Marshall sparked the Tigers' 30-16 NRL grand final victory over North Queensland at Telstra Stadium on Sunday night.
But McClennan has grave concerns that Marshall will opt for shoulder surgery that will sideline him for six months and rule him out of the series that also features Australia and Great Britain.
Marshall had kept his Tri Nations options open throughout the season despite nursing a shoulder injury.
But he was still named in a 40-strong squad that included players for their senior and New Zealand A campaigns.
The NZ A team will play the Junior Kangaroos as a curtainraiser to the first Tri Nations Test on October 15 at Telstra Stadium.
It had been hoped that Marshall would make himself available for at least the Tri Nations opener against Australia.
McClennan said he would speak to Marshall on Tuesday.
"It's important for him to either rule himself in or rule himself out," he said.
Asked if he believed Marshall would opt for surgery, McClennan said: "It's looking that way."
McClennan said he would also receive the final word on fellow Tiger Dene Halatau's fitness.
Halatau had been battling a shoulder tear throughout the season but still featured in the Tigers' maiden grand final triumph.
"I spoke to Halatau today, he gets a scan on Wednesday and once he gets an assessment from his specialist he'll be able to make an informed decision, so we'll know with Dene on Wednesday," McClennan said.
After naming his 23-strong Tri Nations squad today, Australian coach Wayne Bennett said Marshall would be missed if he opted for surgery but would understand the playmaker's decision.
"If they are not fit and they need surgery, that's not disappointing, that's just the way it is," Bennett said.
"If you want to make a mountain out of a molehill you can.
"If you need major reconstruction, on your shoulder for example, that's a six-month recovery.
"It would be irresponsible of the Tigers in Benji's case if he couldn't start the season with them next year.
"I can understand that point of view, that's a reasonable position."
Bennett still expected the Kiwi side to boast plenty of Tigers.
"They will have three or four guys who will play for New Zealand," he said.
The New Zealand squad today did not feature players from the northern hemisphere.
English-based players are not expected to join the Tri-Nations squad until the team arrives in London for the British leg in November.
Despite the Tigers' success, the New Zealand Warriors have the biggest number in the squad - nine.
Cronulla has five and Parramatta, Penrith and the Tigers have four each.
NRL grand finalist North Queensland boasted Paul Rauhihi and David Faiumu.
Surprises include Parramatta Premier League premiership players Peter Lewis, Jeremy Smith and Marcus Perenara, Newcastle's George Carmont and Cronulla's Luke Covell, who played for NSW Country this season.
Other bolters include Brisbane's Greg Eastwood and Tame Tupou and Manly's Steve Matai.
New Zealand squad: Louis Anderson (Warriors), Roy Asotasi (Bulldogs), George Carmont (Newcastle), Nathan Cayless (Parramatta), Luke Covell (Cronulla), Greg Eastwood (Broncos), David Faiumu (Cowboys), Joe Galavao (Penrith), Awen Guttenbeil (Warriors), Dene Halatau (Tigers), Bronson Harrison (Tigers), Lance Hohaia (Warriors), Stacey Jones (Warriors), David Kidwell (Melbourne), Wairangi Koopu (Warriors), Tevita Latu (Cronulla), Phillip Leuluai (Cronulla), Kylie Leuluai (Manly), Peter Lewis (Parramatta), Jamaal Lolesi (Tigers), Steve Matai (Manly), Hutch Maiava (Cronulla), Benji Marshall (Tigers), Frank Pritchard (Penrith), Tony Puletua (Penrith), Frank Puletua (Penrith), Paul Rauhihi (Cowboys), Iafeta Palea'aesina (Warriors), Marcus Perenara (Parramatta), Iosia Soliola (Roosters), Jeremy Smith (Parramatta), Clinton Toopi (Warriors), Tame Tupou (Broncos), Glen Turner (Melbourne), Nigel Vagana (Cronulla), Manu Vatuvei (Warriors), Brent Webb (Warriors), Jake Webster (Melbourne), Paul Whatuira (Tigers), Ruben Wiki (Warriors).