Marshall focus is on 300th game

21 October 2018 21:38:15 GMTPlus11

Benji Marshall is sorry to miss out on New Zealand's three-Test series in England, but says his focus is on reaching the 300-game milestone next year.

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire offered Marshall the chance to end his six-year Test exile and go on the year-ending tour.

The playmaker, though, says his calf hasn't fully healed so he didn't want to compromise New Zealand's chances of success.

If I retire and have played 300 games, I feel that's a pretty special milestone.

Benji Marshall

The 33-year-old Wests Tigers player said: "I was in contact with Madge (Maguire) the whole time; he wanted to take me.

"I couldn't commit because at the back end of the season I was playing injured with my calf and I wasn't able to do the things I wanted to do on the field; I didn't want to let the team down in the international arena because I couldn't give everything."

Marshall will continue into a 16th NRL season with the Tigers next year, hoping to become the 35th player to reach the 300-game milestone.

He will go into the campaign 11 games short, and says it's a realistic goal for him to achieve before hanging up his boots.

"With all the shoulder injuries I had I missed over 70 games. If I retire and have played 300 games, I feel that's a pretty special milestone," he said.

The threat to Marshall's 300-game target is if Tigers coach Ivan Cleary moves to Penrith and his replacement doesn't see the veteran in his plans.

But having played 21 games last year and shown the form that put him back into Kiwis reckoning, he says he backs his ability to make the team whoever is coaching the joint-venture outfit.

Wests Tigers are 31.00 to win the 2019 grand final.

The Tigers are 3.00 to finish in the top eight.

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