UNDER-QUALIFIED and under-prepared. That's how New Zealand captain Benji Marshall describes his first incarnation as Kiwis skipper.
You can't accuse him of being either as he prepares to captain his country for a record 19th time in Wollongong on Friday. It's something else he certainly wasn't prepared for, admittedly thinking his Test ship had sailed.
Even more fitting he'll notch the milestone at WIN Stadium where his career looked to have faded out after parting ways with the Dragons in 2016 - knocking back what he deemed a low-ball offer
He took even less coin to grab a career lifeline from the Broncos before making his now glorious return to the Tigers the past two seasons.
Being back in the Tigers jumper just felt right and - remarkably - so does his return to the Kiwi captaincy, one he didn't expect even after making an emotional Test return earlier this year.
"It's really just a dream come true to be wearing the black jumper again," Marshall said.
"There was probably a time I didn't think it'd be the case. I'm really grateful for that and to be captain again is just a reward for the effort I put in to get back here and just persistence and not giving up on the jumper.
"I talk to a lot of young kids about that so I have to live that again. I just feel like I'm in a really good place, I've got great leaders around me to help drive our standards and our expectations.
"I'm really grateful to be in this position again."
His return against Tonga in June came seven years after he'd last worn the black and white jumper. He could be forgiven for thinking his paper's were marked when the Kiwis toured the UK with the likes to Tui Lolohea and Peta Hiku in the halves, despite his ongoing availability.
"I didn't give up on it, I just didn't think it was going to be a realistic chance," he said.
"I just made myself available every year at the end of every season no matter what. I just backed myself to get back here. Thankfully I've got this opportunity.
"I was probably under-prepared and under-qualified last time. You learn your lessons and you've got to make mistakes to learn what's right.
"I'm a lot older, I'm a lot more experienced in terms of what it takes to be a good leader and leading by example.
"This for me is all about putting the jersey in a better place and the only way to do that is to win.[Australia] are here to win, we're here to win as well."
Both sides will finalise preparations on Thursday ahead of Friday's showdown at WIN Stadium - the first time Australia and New Zealand have faced off in Wollongong.
Kangaroos wrecking ball Josh Papalii remains the lone injury concern after aggravating a rib cartilage injury at training on Tuesday.
He had scans on injured ribs on Wednesday and coach Mal Meninga said a call on his availability will be made on Thursday morning.
"He woke up pretty good this morning," Meninga said.
"It's just a bit of cartilage on his chest bone that happened in the grand final that's still a bit sore. As a precaution he had some scans done today and it seems to be OK
"We'll just see if it settles down well enough but he's keen to play. We train tomorrow morning, we've got a captain's run so we'll make a decision then."