Tim Sheens’ era still haunting Benji Marshall



  • By Nick Campton, 12 Jun 2013 Nick Campton is a Roar Rookie

    The Tigers played tough in their win against Penrith on the weekend. The chips were down, they were missing their best player, but they showed a lot of heart and courage and managed to claw out a 20-18 win.

    The fact that they didn’t collapse in a heap was surprising. The fact that Benji Marshall, apart from one cut out pass to David Nofaluma, was unsighted was not so surprising. The Marshall that has been playing this season, and indeed last season, is not the Marshall I remember.

    A team cannot thrive while its marquee player is so out of form. Marshall is more than just the face of the Tigers, he is one of the faces of the game.

    If I just mentioned a player named “Benji” there is no doubt everyone would know who I mean. For such a big name to be so out of sorts is bad for Wests and bad for the game.

    Personally, I think Marshall is burned out and lacking ideas. His ongoing form loss since the 2011 finals series has been abrupt, and one that could have easily been prevented earlier in his career.

    The root of the problem is simple. Ever since Scott Prince left for the Titans at the end of 2006, Marshall has not had a real halfback.

    His halves partners have consisted of outside backs being shuffled in (Tim Moltzen, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence and shudder Daniel Fitzhenry), back-rowers with a little ball playing ability (Liam Fulton), converted hookers (Robbie Farah and John Morris) and youngsters that never kicked on (Blake Lazarus and Jacob Miller).

    No Scott Princes in that group. The best football Marshall has ever played was in 2005, when Prince was running the show, and in 2010 and 2011, when Rob Lui was briefly able to plug the gap.

    Marshall is not, and has never been, an organising half. His strengths are the flashes of sublime skill he shows, whether it be a wild sidestep, an outrageous pass or a deft kick.

    When Prince and Lui were able to run the team and call the plays, Marshall was able to float in and out of the games as he saw fit, applying his skills and unpredictable brilliance wherever they were needed.

    It is highly uncommon for a successful club to go for more than a few seasons without either developing a young halfback, or poaching one from another club.

    As a Canberra fan, I am required by law to believe that Tim Sheens is a coaching genius, but the failure of such an innovative and experienced coach to develop an adequate partner for his greatest attacking weapon is plain bizarre.

    It is my belief that Tim Sheens wanted to show how clever he was, and build a successful team without relying on having a traditional halfback. He tried to use Robbie Farah in the playmaking role, but mismanaged the team appallingly and the repercussions of that decision are now being felt.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Robbie Farah. I think Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah and Danny Buderus are the three great hookers of the NRL era. Smith and Farah are possibly the most skillful hookers of all time, and both play a significant role in the structure of their teams attack.

    But Farah cannot do it all. As good as he is, he can’t run the team from the middle of the scrum. The concept of a spine has become common parlance in the past decade or so, and without the right combination at fullback, five-eighth, halfback and hooker it is difficult to remain competitive.

    The baffling part of the whole episode is that it would have been easy to fill the gap. All the team needed was a relatively competent halfback who would take a little pressure off Marshall, act as a link between Farah and Marshall, throw a good pass here and there and steer the team round the park (There are so many candidates for this role it’s ridiculous. Luke Walsh, Daniel Mortimer, Isaac John, Brett Finch and Liam Foran would all be perfect)

    Sheens tried to fit a square peg into a round hole by turning Marshall into a organising half, committing the classic error of weakening a strength to strengthen a weakness. The ill-fated experiment of placing Robbie Farah at halfback is another example of Sheens’ inability to adapt.

    Of course, there are other mitigating factors. Marshall has developed a tendency to crab across the field, to the point where it becomes a major detriment.

    This is balanced out by having Blake Ayshford and Chris Lawrence as his centres. Both are direct runners of the ball, and Lawrence in particular developed a deadly combination with Marshall.

    But ever since Lawrence dislocated his hip early in 2011 he has not been the same. The pace, the zip, and acceleration that made him such a dangerous weapon are now diminished.

    Joel Reddy can tackle, but on his best day he is not half as dynamic as Lawrence.

    Marshall still has a lot left in the tank. He is 27, and could potentially play until his mid-thirties. But he needs a proper halfback and he needs one soon.

    Curtis Sironen, for all his potential, will be a back-rower before long. He should be hitting holes off Marshall passes on the fringes of the ruck, not feeding him the ball from the scrum-base.

    Perhaps the answer is Luke Brooks, an 18 year-old prodigy who is tearing the under-20s apart. I saw him play in a trial match early in the year, against fully grown men, and he more than held his own.

    Then again, people said the same of Jacob Miller, who has since been shipped off to Hull without a second thought.

    The bare facts are these: Since the 2005 premiership, the Tigers have made the finals just twice. I would hate for the last years of Benji’s great career to be wasted due to more mismanagement and coaching deficiencies.

    http://www.theroar.com.au/2013/06/12/tim-sheens-era-still-haunting-benji-marshall/



  • A good article if a little obvious and to an extent while I hear the “organising half” stuff touted a lot there is no way on Earth that Robert Lui was “calling plays” in 2010/11. Farah was calling all the plays and Lui and Marshall were both playing as dynamic five-eighths. It worked in those years because of the presence of Lui no doubt but not because he was playing as an organising half. It was just because he and Marshall were both playing well. It’s the same way we are playing now with Marshall and Sironen.



  • We can all forget Benji, Brooks and Moses are our future.



  • That’s a well-written article. Egos were put to the side and truth was written.

    Why Sheens never went a brought a traditional halfback, only he knows but would never admit. It’s a head-scratcher to say the least.

    I don’t think Curtis is the answer but he is by far a better option then the genuine centers, hookers and non-halfback options that have been named before him. He isn’t the long-term answer but I think he may be the short-term.

    Posted using RoarFEED 2013



  • A great read. A lot of truths spoken there. There’s no doubts that Benji has suffered for the lack of a half back, of which he is not. I think Lui was the guy we finally found. It’s a shame how things worked out. I love and totally agree though on questioning Sheens role in the puzzle that is Benji. The constant playing players out of position and into a key position 7 or 6, that drove me nuts! It was my single biggest criticism of Sheens. It was like putting a band aid on a gash. It did nothing but temporarily appear to fix something when in actual fact it fixed nothing. If anything it made things worse.



  • You’ve still got to ask the question "Why has no half back of any recognition wanted to play between Marshall and Farah "

    Because they would be very hard to play with for a traditional half back

    Don’t blame Sheens for this one



  • a good article, although it’s only stuff that many on here have been saying since Prince left, certainly had just about everyone tearing their hair out during '07-09 with Morris being dumped in a position he was not suited for.



  • @Peaches:

    That’s a well-written article. Egos were put to the side and truth was written.

    Why Sheens never went a brought a traditional halfback, only he knows but would never admit. It’s a head-scratcher to say the least.

    I don’t think Curtis is the answer but he is by far a better option then the genuine centers, hookers and non-halfback options that have been named before him. He isn’t the long-term answer but I think he may be the short-term.

    Posted using RoarFEED 2013

    Agree with all of this, good post.



  • @happy tiger:

    You’ve still got to ask the question "Why has no half back of any recognition wanted to play between Marshall and Farah "

    Because they would be very hard to play with for a traditional half back

    Don’t blame Sheens for this one

    Sheens: “Ooohhh Benji & Robbie are difficult to play with so I might try a centre/hooker/fullback/square peg at half - that should work”

    Naah…not Sheens’ fault. 😒



  • @innsaneink:

    @happy tiger:

    You’ve still got to ask the question "Why has no half back of any recognition wanted to play between Marshall and Farah "

    Because they would be very hard to play with for a traditional half back

    Don’t blame Sheens for this one

    Sheens: “Ooohhh Benji & Robbie are difficult to play with so I might try a centre/hooker/fullback/square peg at half - that should work”

    Naah…not Sheens’ fault. 😒

    Well why weren’t recognized half backs falling over themselves to play halfback with Farah and Marshall Ink ??Its not of there weren’t a plethora of halves in the NRL (even fringe ones)



  • Exactly Happy , Sheens tried to get a few , but none wanted to play here.



  • Well, Lui left in rather abrupt circumstances leaving him kinda screwed for 2012. Then he signed Braith?

    Don’t think sheens was as bad as many portray him on here. But moving him on for Potter was definitely the better option. I still regard him as a good coach but we needed some fresh air and potter brings that. Hopefully it’ll continue if the board allow potter to get his own assistants etc.

    To be clear, i’m not saying sheens was brilliant but this forum has gone off on a bit of an anti-Sheens circle jerk, i mean he wasn’t the DEVIL! he had some bad luck with injuries and made some mistakes in 2012 and we went below expectations. And a lot of those expectations were riding on Benji and Blair. Blair was a dud, the lack of a 7 had more impact than many thought it would.



  • Players like Wallace, Reynolds, Maloney, Godinet, Walsh etc spent a considerable time in State Cup before moving into first grade. Sheens had choices… he picked Johnny Cronk Morris… the rest is history…Sheenius…

    Hopefully Potts doesn’t make the same mistakes…


    :sign:



  • @happy tiger:

    You’ve still got to ask the question "Why has no half back of any recognition wanted to play between Marshall and Farah "

    Because they would be very hard to play with for a traditional half back

    Don’t blame Sheens for this one

    You’re kidding of course. Any halfback worth their salt would love to play between one of the world’s best hookers and world’s best 5/8’s. I don’t see Farah running everything in National, state or city teams - he just does his job properly. Farah & Marshall overplay their hands in our team because we don’t have a proper halfback and other teams know it, plan against it.

    I’ve not seen Brookes play and probably won’t this year with the 2 cap issues. If he is as good as most are saying and he lives up to the hype then he may be the answer.

    I hope that Potter gives young Brookes the next full off season to train with Robbie & Benji then I think we will see the Tigers progress much better especially with so many other young blokes getting first grade experience this year.

    Posted using RoarFEED 2013



  • Enjoyed the article but the problem I have with it is that none of the responsibility lies on benjis shoulders. The guy has been one of the highest paid players for 7 or so years now and he is responsible for his own form.

    He could have made an average halfback look great but he hasn’t. Too many excuses, is that how he wants to look back on his career?


Log in to reply
 

Recent Topics