Benji’s little brother could kick on to future greatness
May 13, 2013
Rugby League Writer
As Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall attempts to regain his lost confidence, his youngest brother was not lacking any on Sunday when he won the national under-18s title with Balmain Tigers at North Sydney Oval.
Jeremy Marshall-King, the 17-year-old brother of the Tigers’ NRL star, played halfback on Sunday against Queensland representatives Redcliffe, having been a key part of Balmain’s SG Ball grand final win a week earlier.
‘‘It’s a good feeling,’’ Marshall-King said afterwards. ‘‘The boys didn’t give up. I played a bit bad, but that’s all right. We got the win, so that’s good.’’
Marshall-King did not start the SG Ball campaign in the 17-man squad, but finished it as a key playmaker, and one with potential. And he doesn’t appear to be worried about the pressure that comes with being the brother of the Tigers’ No.6.
‘‘It’s all right,’’ he said. ''I just play my game. It doesn’t worry me.
‘‘Sometimes [there’s pressure]. But I just try to forget about it and just play my game.’’
Marshall-King was one of the stars of the Tigers’ SG Ball grand final win over Penrith a week ago, and while he did not repeat those efforts against Redcliffe, his kicking game in the second half stood out. The win will give the Tigers’ side of the merger at least something to cheer about as Marshall’s NRL squad struggles through the equal worst losing streak in its history.
Marshall-King’s coach through the SG Ball season, Mat Head, is a former halves partner of Marshall. Head maintained that the pair displayed different talents.
‘‘He just takes it in his stride,’’ Head said of the pressure of having Marshall in his surname. ''He’s his own man. ‘‘He comes to training, he works hard, he’s not living off Benji - he didn’t play halfback for us because he’s Benji’s brother. He’s a tough footballer and he loves to defend. It was a privilege to coach the kid.’’
Marshall has two younger brothers, both of whom have played with the Tigers. Middle brother Jordan reached under-20s level for Wests Tigers, but has been unable to progress further.
Head saw vast improvement in Jeremy’s season. ‘‘I knew he had something in pre-season,’’ he said. ‘‘He struggled in the trial matches, and we got him to do a little bit more work. We’ve been led by a great forward pack, but it’s on the back of Jeremy’s kicking game and talk.’’
On Sunday at North Sydney Oval, Marshall-King’s performance was overshadowed by that of five-eighth Rhys Armstrong, who was man of the match as the Tigers put the icing on back-to-back SG Ball titles. With a relatively small catchment area to pick their juniors from, club officials were lauding the achievement.