The Kiwis boss has chosen to select a new captain for the World Cup, but insists that the Wests Tigers half-back remains an integral part of the team.
"It was a very tough conversation," PA quotes Kearney as saying. "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."
New Zealand will hold a press conference in Aukland on Friday to name Marshall's successor.