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Benji Marshall earns Kiwis recall in squad to face Tonga

Sporting News logo Sporting News 13/06/2019
Benji Marshall wearing a suit and tie © Getty Images

Tigers veteran Benji Marshall is back in the international frame for the first time since 2012 after being named in an extended Kiwis squad to face Tonga next weekend.

But there is hot competition for a place in the starting team as one of four playmakers alongside incumbents Shaun Johnson and Kodi Nikorima and Canterbury leader Kieran Foran.

Sharks back-rower Briton Nikora is the only new name, while Jahrome Hughes is still searching for a debut after touring with the Kiwis last year.

There have been loud calls for Hughes to take the utility spot after proving his versatility with two tries last week against the Warriors after switching from fullback to the halves.

That utility spot appears to be Marshall's only chance of sneaking into the side, unless Maguire breaks up his combination of Johnson and Nikorima who beat the Kangaroos last year.

"We're really pleased with the quality and form of the players we've been able to select," Maguire said.

"Nearly all of them have come through the Test we had against England in Denver last year and the matches against Australia and England later in the year. As a group we made a lot of progress and now it's all about building on that.

"This Test against Tonga at Mount Smart is going to be a huge occasion and we can't wait to be part of it.

"It kicks off what is a tremendous year for the international game with the introduction of the Oceania Cup competition, the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines and our series against the Great Britain Rugby League Lions."

The 27-man squad will be cut down to 19 players on Sunday.

Full New Zealand squad:

Leeson Ah Mau (Warriors), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Storm), Jesse Bromwich (Storm), Kenneath Bromwich (Storm), James Fisher-Harris (Panthers), Kieran Foran (Bulldogs), Jahrome Hughes (Storm), Jamayne Isaako (Broncos), Shaun Johnson (Sharks), Isaac Liu (Roosters), Issac Luke (Warriors), Joseph Manu (Roosters), Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), Ken Maumalo (Warriors), Briton Nikora (Sharks), Kodi Nikorima (Warriors), Agnatius Paasi (Warriors), Isaiah Papali’i (Warriors), Jordan Rapana (Raiders), Brandon Smith (Storm), Joseph Tapine (Raiders), Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles), Zane Tetevano (Roosters), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Bulldogs)

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