Here's to Benji, the Kiwis, league and Sonny Bill

There are some players that just look like leaders and Kiwis' captain Benji Marshall is one of them. A brilliant player and play maker in his own right, he wore the captain's hat proudly on Saturday and performed like a leader too.

McCaw is another whose practises leadership well now, although his quality as a leader and his performances in his earliest days as captain were not of the standard that they are now.

Marshall demonstrated his passion at the haka, and often I have looked at these performances as the first sign of where a team's head is at. The Kiwis were on the boil and no one was bubbling more than Benji. Perhaps this is because of the words Wayne Bennett gave them before the match, or perhaps it is because the players knew they had to do better than the previous week. But their victory is also due to the never say die attitude than Benji brings to the game.

Lesser teams would have folded after his kick to tie the game bounced off the posts, but with only five minutes left, Benji conjured up another move to dumbfound the Aussies (and no doubt some viewers) for Fien to score and win the game.

His players like him and will follow him. The administrators and his coach trust him and the public is warming to him. He has grown in confidence too. Doing things that work and win games is a big help.

Sonny Bill Williams is discovering that too. An ex league player, he is set to be a giant of the 15 man game. I am neither total enthusiast nor complete sceptic, rather I am happy to watch the evolution with interest. He will have rattled some sceptics with his performance against Scotland on Saturday, but let's not rush ahead of ourselves. His performance against England who provided tougher opposition than the Scots was a bit patchy, and there are still valid questions being asked about his defensive skills. So he has enormous potential, which I hope he will fulfil, but he is not there yet.

Not quite there yet is the Kiwi league team as a whole. No doubt it has shaken the 'little brother' tag having beaten the Aussies in three finals out of four since 2005.  When we play well we are as good as any league team in the world - which is really to say that we are as good as Australia.

But the idea floated in the post Brisbane euphoria that league is going to take over from union as New Zealanders' preferred winter sport is overblown - at least at the moment.

Like Sonny Bill, league in NZ has the potential to be much more than it is, but it also has to improve further, be consistent, and provide the role modelling that New Zealanders aspire to see in their players. In Benji Marshall it has the kind of leader who can help take the 13 man game to new heights of public respect.