Sport

Benji Marshall going back to where it all began

TIGERS BOUND: Benji Marshall is off to the Wests Tigers.
TIGERS BOUND: Benji Marshall is off to the Wests Tigers. DAVE HUNT

BENJI Marshall can become a game-changing super sub at the Tigers, according to three of rugby league's greatest players.

Marshall will leave the Broncos at the end of the season to take up a one-year deal with the Tigers - the club he propelled to the 2005 premiership as a 20-year-old.

Marshall was famously dubbed "Benchy Marshall" by The Daily Telegraph in 2013 when axed to the interchange by then-Tigers coach Mick Potter. And the 32-year-old is set to reprise that role next year, despite the club officially stating Marshall would be given "every opportunity to compete for a starting position."

Speaking on Channel Nine's The Footy Show, Test greats Brad Fittler, Darren Lockyer and Andrew Johns agreed Marshall would make a great super sub, with big-money signing Josh Reynolds demanding a spot at five-eighth, Luke Brooks at halfback and mid-season recruit Tuimoala Lolohea also at the club.

"Play him off the bench," Fittler said. "Tyrone May came on last night (in the Panthers v Cowboys clash) as a bench utility and ended up winning them the game. Benji Marshall has similar skills to May and he could just open the game up."

Lockyer agreed: "Right now, (I'd play him) off the bench. He can play in the halves, he's also been playing in the back row for the Broncos and at fullback, so he's got coverage. (But) in a game where it's close, he can go out there and break it open."

Fittler said Marshall can be a positive influence and lead the Tigers into better times.

"I think he's a great buy," Fittler said. "Since Benji has been at the Broncos under Wayne Bennett ... I feel he has changed. It looks like his attitude is a lot better.

"Benji is one of those blokes, he's a powerful influence. When he's in a really good mindset he can have great influence on a young team like the Tigers. Given he's in a good mindset, I think he'll also drive (the resurrection of) what's been quite a horrible few years for the Tigers and get them back that really good image they used to have with their fans."

Marshall left the Tigers in acrimonious circumstances in 2013 for an ill-fated stint in Super Rugby with Auckland Blues.

He joined the Dragons mid-season in 2014, staying for two-and-a-half years before rejecting a $300,000 extension and signing with the Broncos on a much smaller deal.

He has played nine games at the Broncos this year - four in the starting side and five as a bench utility - for an impressive seven try assists and a try.

However, he has been unable to push his way into the team for the last two matches, despite the injury to hooker Andrew McCullough (knee, season).

Kodi Nikorima has been preferred in the halves, with no bench utility spot available as Ben Hunt and Sam Thaiday share the hooking role, while the likes of Hunt, Nikorima, Alex Glenn and Josh McGuire also able to cover multiple positions.

News Corp Australia

Topics:  benji marshall brisbane broncos nrl2017 wests tigers


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