St George Illawarra Dragons halfback Benji Marshall has been named as captain of the Club’s Nine’s team for the two-day NRL Auckland Nines tournament to be held at Eden Park, Auckland at month’s end.

Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor has named a 18-man squad for the two-day tournament which will see Marshall skipper the Club for the first time.

The New Zealand Kiwis international, capped 27 times for his country, is excited to take part in his inaugural nine-a-side outing and feels humbled to be doing so leading the Dragons.

“It’s an honour to be captaining the Dragons and to do so while playing my first NRL Auckland Nines tournament is exciting,” said Marshall.

“To be recognised as a leader means a lot to me and I definitely didn’t expect it to happen.

“I’m looking forward to getting out there onto the field and contributing to the attacking plays as I missed out on experiencing the tournament last season.

“All the players have spoken about how quick the games are and the different tactics that need to be incorporated into the plays and I cannot wait to do my part for the team.”

McGregor believes that Marshall is a natural leader who will be able to demonstrate this through his actions on the field in the absence of Club Captain Ben Creagh.

The Dragons will compete within the Rangitoto pool against the Parramatta Eels, Newcastle Knights and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles which McGregor believes will be fast and unpredictable encounters.

“Benji brings a certain energy to the group and they respond to it which is important as a leader,” said McGregor.

“Additionally, he is an aggressive talker that we will need on the field and he also demonstrates leadership values in his actions.

“It is an exciting tournament still in its infancy and for that reason we are entering into the unknown slightly.

“You need to take a side that is capable of moving the ball around as well as being able to defend in difficult situations.

“We do plan to play with a structure and a plan but that might change as the games go on depending on what we are confronted with by other teams.”

St George Illawarra Dragons Squad for NRL Auckland Nines:

Euan Aitken, Mike Cooper, Shannon Crook, Josh Dugan, Tyson Frizell, Craig Garvey, Nathan Green, Yaw Kiti Glymin, Beau Henry, Dan Hunt, Benji Marshall (c), Peter Mata’utia, Will Matthews, Eto Nabuli, Jason Nightingale, Joel Thompson, Shannon Wakeman.

Dragons 2015 Pre-Season Fixtures:

Saturday, January 31 - Sunday, February 1
Fixture:
NRL Auckland Nines v Parramatta Eels, Newcastle Knights and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
Location: Eden Park, Auckland
Ticketing Information: Tickets are now on sale to Red V Members and the general public through Ticketek (NZ). Click here for more information regarding ticketing.

Saturday, January 31
Fixture:
Trial v Mackay Cutters
Location: Mackay Stadium, Mackay
Ticketing Information: Tickets are now on sale to Red V Members and the general public through the Mackay Cutters. Click here for more information regarding ticketing.

Saturday, February 7
Fixture:
Charity Shield v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Location: ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park
Ticketing Information: Tickets are now on sale to Red V Members and the general public through Ticketek. Red V Members can still access discounted tickets until Friday, January 30. Click here for more information regarding ticketing.

Friday, February 20
Fixture: World Club Series vs Warrington Wolves 
Location: The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington
Ticketing Information: Tickets are now on sale to Red V Members and the general public through host club Warrington Wolves. An official supporters tour to the UK is being developed and details will be provided once confirmed. Click here for more information regarding ticketing.