NRL 2021: Kiwis legend Benji Marshall named to first Māori All Stars squad

  • 02/02/2021

Former Kiwis captain Benji Marshall has been named in the Māori All Stars team for the NRL's traditional season opener against Indigenous All Stars at Townsville's Queensland Country Bank Stadium on February 20.

Marshall's surprise selection to the interchange bench caps a remarkable comeback week for the 2005 NRL Premiership winner.

The 35-year-old was considering retirement, after the Wests Tigers opted not to offer him a contract extension at the end of last season.

But last week, Marshall's former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett reached out with a one-year deal with his South Sydney Rabbitohs, which allows him to extend his NRL tenure, while remaining close to his family.

Marshall has been included alongside younger brother Jeremy Marshall-King in David Kidwell's 20-man squad.

Marshall, Jarome Luai, Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Roosters centre Joseph Manu are among 11 changes made to squad, who hope to back up last year's 30-16 win.

Nicoll-Klokstad replaces Knights superstar Kalyn Ponga, who underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season.

Storm recruit Reimis Smith is another bolter in the starting line-up, with Raiders winger Bailey Simonsson included on the unlimited interchange bench.

Meanwhile, coach Laurie Daley has made six changes to his side, including Titans Jamal Fogarty to partner Cody Walker in the halves, Sharks enforcer Andrew Fifita returning at prop and star centre Latrell Mitchell back from injury.