The Kiwis will have a new captain this season with New Zealand Rugby League today confirming that Benji Marshall won't lead the national team in 2013.
The decision to take the leadership off Marshall has been made to give the playmaker every shot of being at his dynamic best on the field in this all-important Rugby League World Cup year.
Stephen Kearney, the Kiwis coach, spoke with Marshall this week.
"It was a very tough conversation," says Kearney. "Benji is an immensely proud New Zealander and his desire was to continue in the captaincy role. Although this decision has been a difficult one, it has been made in the best interests of the team, and Benji will remain an integral part of the Kiwis going forward."
As one of the highest-profile players in the sport, and easily the most recognisable face in New Zealand rugby league, Marshall's wider role in the game is substantial.
"Because of who he is, he carries a massive workload for rugby league in general," NZRL General Manager of High Performance Tony Kemp said.
"Our respect for him is immense and we appreciate that he's hurting now, but we believe this decision will ultimately lift some weight from Benji and give the Kiwis every opportunity to defend the Rugby League World Cup."
Marshall's replacement will be announced at a press conference tomorrow.