Benji Marshall says being back in camp is "like my debut again." The former captain has been recalled to the Kiwis for the first time in seven years for their match against Tonga this Saturday night.
It has been fourteen years since Marshall made his test debut against Australia in the 2005 ANZAC test, and his excitement in 2019 hasn't diminished, he says his teammates have noticed it as well, "they've seen me in camp before and they said they've never seen me like this."
Gratitude, Marshall says is what is driving his enthusiastic return to the Kiwis, "I'm just grateful to be here. Obviously, no one really expected it, I always wanted it but it seemed like it was a bit far fetched so to have this opportunity is just something I won't take for granted," the 34-year-old says.
"I suppose when something gets taken away from you and you get it back you just to make the most of it," Marshall says. But it's a phone call he received this morning from his wife Zoe this morning that put it all into perspective for Kiwi 717, "she rang me this morning and said "we're so proud of you. You're sons now going to see you wear the black jumper for the first time, and I started crying. I had to walk away cause the boys were there. It's actually a really special moment."
Benji Marshall is loving being back in the Kiwi camp for the first time since 2012. Photo/file
Marshall hasn't played a test on home soil since the 2012 ANZAC test against Australia at Eden Park, his halves partner that night was a 22-year-old Shaun Johnson. It is expected the pair will be named again this week in Michael Maguire's run on side. Marshall is looking forward to playing with Johnson again for only the second time, "to see how he mature and how grown up he is now and just embracing that role I think it's awesome, there's no doubt he's one of the best players to ever play the game for the Kiwis."
Marshall is hoping that his wife and 15-month-old Benjamin will be able to make the trip over from Sydney this week to watch him run out in the black and white jersey he once thought he would never get to wear again.