Benji admits ego was bruised by bench role
May 19, 2013
Rugby League Writer
Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall has opened up about his demotion, saying he was ‘‘embarrassed’’ to have been benched against South Sydney while promising to do everything he can to ensure it is a one-off occurrence.
‘‘It’s embarrassing more than anything,’’ Marshall told Fairfax Media. ''Your ego takes a bit of a knock. But at the end of the day, he [coach Mick Potter] said he wanted a reaction … regardless of whether I was on the bench or not, I planned to play the way I played anyway. I don’t think it was going to change what I did. But he’s the coach, and he made the decision. You don’t have to be happy with it, but it’s his decision.
‘‘I just hope it never has to happen again. I’ll do everything I can. I’ve been trying off the field to do everything I can, doing a bit extra. I’ve still got to do a job for our team, whether I’m on the bench or not. Hopefully, next week, I can do that from the kick-off, from the start.’’
Potter, who made the dramatic decision to bench Marshall last week, has already indicated that he will return the Kiwi international to the starting side for Friday night’s clash against North Queensland at Leichhardt Oval.
Marshall, who sat on the bench for the first 17 minutes against the Rabbitohs, described the feeling as ‘‘weird’’ afterwards.
‘‘I didn’t really know what to do,’’ he said. ''It was unfamiliar territory. It’s heartbreaking, because you want to be out there helping your team. I know that I could have helped the team in the first 15. That was frustrating. But I went on and just tried to bring a bit of energy and spark to the team, and play the way I wanted to play. I thought I did that to a certain degree.
''I wanted to get involved a lot, try to get my hands on the ball as much as I could. I felt a little bit sorry for [halfback] Curtis Sironen, because I was taking over everywhere. But I had to prove a point. Whether I was sitting on the bench or not, or whether I started, I was still going to prove the same point.
‘‘If you ask me if I was happy with the decision, no I wasn’t. But as a senior player in the team, you’ve just got to cop it. Considering how hard it was, I thought I handled it pretty well.’’
Marshall, who last played off the interchange bench in 2006, said he had been ‘‘shattered’’ when Potter told him last Tuesday that he would be replaced in the starting side. ‘‘I argued a little bit about the reasoning behind it,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘When you’re singled out a bit like that, it’s like, ‘Is it my fault that the team’s been losing?’ That’s what it sort of felt like. But he assured me that wasn’t the case. He just said he wanted a reaction. He’s the coach, he makes the decisions. He’s got to live and die by them. I just had to do a job when I came on and I tried to do that.’’
Marshall handled the ball more times than any other Tiger except hooker Robbie Farah, and gave his side some spark when he was on the field. Yet he also conceded that he would be feeling the effects of his toe injury for some time yet.
Asked about the magnitude of the result, the Tigers’ worst loss to Souths - handing his club its longest losing streak in the process - Marshall said: ‘‘Sometimes you’ve got to take into account the class of the team you’re playing against. I think some people forget we were playing the team that was on top of the table. They were on top of the table for a reason. They’re a good side, and they outplayed us in most facets of the game.’’
Twitter - @Glenn__Jackson