New Zealand captain Benji Marshall is ready to cope with the pressure of single-handedly spearheading his side’s challenge in Saturday’s Four Nations final against Australia at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium
The Wests Tigers stand-off was the pick of the Kiwis side in their disappointing 34-20 defeat by the Kangaroos in Auckland last Saturday, giving the raucous Eden Park crowd something to cheer with moments of flair near the end to create consolation tries for Jason Nightingale and Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
Marshall knows he will be a marked man on Saturday but told a news conference at the Suncorp Stadium today that he will not shirk his responsibilities.
"I’m an integral part of our team and my job is a major factor in how the the team goes," he said. "For me, I’m not worried about what anyone else is doing, I’ve just got to do my job for the team."
As his club coach, Australia boss Tim Sheens has all the inside knowledge he needs to attempt to combat the Kiwis’ chief playmaker.
"I know Benji pretty well," he said. "I know what he’ll do. He’ll run more and our job will be trying to stop him from running more."
The Australians are firm favourites to retain their crown but Sheens is not reading too much into last Saturday’s warm-up contest.
"The scoreline was not indicative," he said. "A couple of little things worked for us early but there wasn’t that much in the game. We know it and I think the Kiwis know it too."
Meanwhile, the international career of veteran Kangaroos prop Petero Civoniceva could be at an end after he was omitted from Sheens’ line-up.
After failing to meet his own high standards through the first three games of the tournament, the 34-year-old warhorse, who has won 44 caps, volunteered to take himself out of the running for selection for Saturday’s decider.