LOTE TUQIRI PRAISES BENJI’S DEFENCE
By Wayne Cousins
8/09/2011 6:30:32 PM
Wests Tigers Test winger Lote Tuqiri has praised the defensive work of superstar five-eighth Benji Marshall.
On the eve of the qualifying final against St George-Illawarra Dragons, Tuqiri said Marshall had worked incredibly hard on his defence – a word not normally associated with the brilliant playmaker whose freakish skills can mesmorise opponents and leave fans breathless.
“He has really improved his defence over the last couple of years having bad shoulders from the reconstructions three to four years ago,’’ Tuqiri said.
“Benji is full of confidence now and willing to defend really well.”
Tuqiri admits to being in awe at times of what Marshall can produce out of nothing.
“Benji has been unbelievable this year. You still shake your head,’’ Tuqiri said.
“You probably don’t appreciate it as much as you should when you are in the moment and playing with him because you see him every day and every week at training.
“Hopefully we can go a fair way this year and appreciate it a bit more. His game has really come round.
“He is a genius with the ball in hand. He is a freak.”
Tuqiri will play just his eighth game of the season on Friday night after a horror run with injuries.
He says the depth within the club to cover the losses through injury to himself, centre Chris Lawrence and second-rower Simon Dwyer, was one of the reasons why the team had won eight games straight.
“Guys like Mitch Brown have stepped up for Chris despite not having much experience in that position before while Matt Utai has also played in the centres,’’ Tuqiri said.
“You then have the young props in Aaron Woods and Matt Groat who have certainly picked up a fair bit over the last couple of weeks, so there is a good feeling within the squad.
“We are looking forward to getting out there on Friday and playing the Saints. Big time footy, what more could you ask for?”