from today’s SMH by Chris Barrett & Glenn Jackson
BENJI MARSHALL is rated a 50-50 chance of taking the field for Wests Tigers’ sudden-death encounter with Canberra this Friday. Tigers medical staff were yesterday more upbeat about Marshall’s playing prospects than in the immediate aftermath of Saturday night’s qualifying final defeat to the Roosters, where he missed the dying stages of normal time and all of golden-point extra time with a knee injury.
Tigers doctor Donald Kuah ruled out a medial ligament tear through a portable ultrasound after the match, but there were still concerns about the bruising around the ligament, the chief cause of his distress.
‘‘He’s pretty sore,’’ Kuah said yesterday. ''I would normally say 50-50, but being a semi-final, they may lean towards rolling the dice.
‘‘There’s no tears to the ligaments, so it’s pretty much about him icing it for the next 48 hours.’’
Sheens summoned his players to a morning briefing at the club’s training headquarters at Concord - partly to raise their spirits after the disappointment of Saturday night’s 100th-minute defeat, partly to take stock. A number of players are in doubt to play against the Raiders, with Marshall the most high profile and also probably the most serious. Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington and Robbie Farah (all ankle) were also limping post-game, while second-rower Gareth Ellis has a lower back problem. Ellis has an added concern with the prospect of the NRL match-review committee charging him over a high shot on Roosters five-eighth Todd Carney. Centre Geoff Daniela also has a hamstring problem, leaving him in doubt to face the Raiders.
The Tigers could welcome back fullback Wade McKinnon from a hamstring injury, but it is believed Tim Moltzen has little chance of making a surprise return despite speculation to the contrary. Moltzen’s recovery from a knee injury has been progressing well and strength tests indicate that the afflicted leg is almost as strong as his good one. But he has not yet trained with his teammates and is unlikely to be considered.
Marshall’s injury is the one that will be dominating the lead-up to the clash at Canberra Stadium. Tigers halfback Robert Lui said the absence of the five-eighth would leave a sizeable hole in the squad.
‘‘Benji is a big part of our game, of course,’’ he said. ‘‘Hopefully he gets himself right for next week.’’
Lui almost gave the Tigers a week off, which would have allowed the players two weeks to recover. His 88th minute field goal skewed millimetres away from the left upright. ‘‘I hit it good and I thought I got it, but it just missed to the left. Probably by only 10 inches or something,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s disappointing. It was my first final in the NRL so it’s a learning curve for me just coming away from that … We’re still a chance.’’
No Benji Marshall, no chance for Tigers
Christian Nicolussi and Tyson Otto From: The Daily Telegraph September 13, 2010 12:00AM
BENJI Marshall is often described as having the talent of two men and Tigers coach Tim Sheens yesterday conceded as much as he faced the scenario of replacing his star five-eighth for Friday’s clash against Canberra.
Marshall was last night rated only a 50/50 chance to overcome a right knee injury that sent shockwaves through the Tigers and their premiership hopes into freefall.
The Tigers are now $15 rank outsiders with TAB Sportsbet to win the premiership and are struggling with injuries ahead of their sudden death final against a Raiders side Sheens labelled this year’s “Cinderella team”.
Sheens said finding someone to fill Marshall’s shoes is twice as hard because he is so importance to the team’s ability to score points.
“Not only is Benji a key player for us, but he is also a goalkicker,” Sheens said last night.
"I have in my own mind what we will do in this situation.
"Benji is better today than he was after the game on Saturday night, but given it will be a short week, it will be more difficult.
“The initial scans have revealed it is not as bad as originally thought, but he will have more scans tomorrow.”
Marshall hobbled off in the dying stages of Saturday night’s 19-15 loss to the Sydney Roosters.
Sheens said the devastating nature of the defeat had left his troops “mentally and physically drained”.
Marshall’s kicking game has improved out of sight in the back half of the competition and he is the only player at the club who practises goalkicking regularly.
Sheens said Gareth Ellis (back) and Geoff Daniela (hamstring) were also under injury clouds and no certainties to make the trip to the nation’s capital. It will be as tough a road trip as they come.
Sheens, who is no stranger to fairytale runs through the finals, said of the Raiders: "They’re on a roll.
"They’re the Cinderella side from the point of view of this year’s finals - there’s always a side that does this.
"But I’m more worried about where we’ll be at, rather than Canberra.
"If I had a fully healthy squad I wouldn’t be worried, but I’ve got a side I need to get together.
“I need to rebuild their confidence because it was a draining effort that was mentally and physically tough.”
Balmain great Ben Elias said the Tigers might have to take a gamble on Marshall.
“Even if Benji is 50/50, you’d still have to play him,” Elias said.
“Benji is the X-factor, the strike power, but they can still win without him.”
Potential replacements Chris Lawrence, who is sidelined with a knee injury, and Tim Moltzen are rated as next to no chance of making a finals comeback.
Tigers doctor Donald Kuah examined Marshall at length yesterday and is expected to carry out more scans today.
“He’ll be re-assessed tomorrow [Monday] but at the moment I’d say he’s a 50-50 chance to play,” Kuah said.
"With injuries like this, one day could be the difference. But this is a semi-final we’re talking about.
"And it’s sudden death, so we’ll be doing everything we can to get him right.
“If he is close to being fit, they might roll the dice to get him out there.”
NRL boss David Gallop is hoping Marshall can make a speedy recovery.
“It’s always a shame when your star players get injured at this time of year,” he said. “League fans in general, not just Tigers fans, will miss Benji if he’s not playing.”
Benji enters the hyperbaric chamber
Brent Read From: The Australian September 13, 2010 12:00AM
BENJI Marshall has begun daily treatment in a hyperbaric chamber as he desperately attempts to take his place for Wests Tigers against Canberra on Friday night.
Marshall limped from the field in the second half of Saturday night’s heart-breaking loss to the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium with a bruised medial ligament in his right knee and is no certainty to play at Canberra Stadium.
He isn’t the embattled Tigers’ only concern. Centre Geoff Daniela will be unavailable after limping off with a hamstring injury. Liam Fulton (hamstring) and Bryce Gibbs (knee) also aggravated injuries, although both are likely to play.
The fate of forwards Gareth Ellis and Simon Dwyer rests in the hands of the match review committee, although Ellis is also struggling with a back problem.
On the positive side, centre Chris Lawrence (jaw) and fullback Wade McKinnon (hamstring) are likely to be available after missing the loss to the Roosters.
Marshall, however, is the major concern. Along with captain Robbie Farah, the New Zealand international runs the Tigers’ attack.
Without Marshall, there is no obvious replacement at five-eighth, particularly with coach Tim Sheens and doctor Donald Kuah ruling out a return for Tim Moltzen, who has missed most of the season with a knee injury.
“It’s pretty well the same as after the game,” Kuah said of Marshall.
“I think he would be 50-50 for most games. Being a final he will probably have to take a chance.”
Tigers players are already preparing to be without Marshall, although they remain optimistic he will overcome his problems.
“I think he should be right,” winger Lote Tuqiri said. “The squad that’s carried the team through the year has played all right. I think there’s enough skill in this team. There are other guys who can fill that void.”
Ellis added: "Obviously, Benji is a massive part of what we do. He’s a cornerstone of our team. But if that’s the case, that’s the case.
“We have to do the best we can. We lost Tim Moltzen earlier in the year and adapted well to that. We will do what we have to do.”
Ellis, meanwhile, has his own problems. The England international went on report for a high shot on Todd Carney in the opening half and his availability will hinge on the match review committee, who will look at the incident today.
“I didn’t feel like I did anything at the time,” Ellis said.
“He’s their danger player. You have to throw everything at him. I will have to see what the powers that be make of it.”
Marshall confident of playing Steve Jancetic
September 13, 2010 - 2:24PM
Wests Tigers NRL finals chances have received a shot in the arm with Benji Marshall revealing he was confident of playing in Friday night’s sudden death semi-final against Canberra.
Marshall suffered a bruised medial ligament in his right knee in Saturday night’s dramatic 19-15 golden point loss to the Sydney Roosters.
The injury forced him from the field and left the Tigers with only 12 men for the final five minutes against the Roosters, with coach Tim Sheens having used up all his interchanges ahead of the extra time period.
Scans taken after the match showed the medial was still intact, Marshall vowing to do all he could to get back on the field to face the Raiders.
“There is a premiership at stake and I will do everything I can,” Marshall said in a statement released by the club on Monday.
"If it hurts I am going to have to go through a bit of pain.
"I will know more tomorrow or Wednesday but going on the last couple of days, it looks promising.
"I am sure the coach will give me every opportunity to game day. Even if I can’t train this week, he has got enough faith in me to know that I will still be able to do the job.
“If I think I will be right game day, I will play.”
The loss of Marshall would be a devastating blow for the Tigers, who already face a mountain to climb mentally as they look to get themselves up for another game after coming up just short in their 100-minute epic.
“I feel alright. I’ve had a few sleepless nights just trying to ice up and do everything I can to be right,” Marshall said.
“I am reasonably confident and it is just a matter of how much work I put into it is what I am going to get out of it. It is all about recovery at the moment.”
Backrower Gareth Ellis said after the game he was confident his back injury would not keep him off the paddock against the Raiders, but Geoff Daniela is certain to miss the game with a hamstring tear.
Mitch Brown is likely to slot into the centres for Daniela with Wade McKinnon hopeful of returning from a hamstring strain at fullback.