Tigers’ legend Benji Marshall opens up on what is driving him in his 18th season of rugby league

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Tigers’ legend Benji Marshall opens up on what is driving him in his 18th season of rugby league

Post by TheDaBoss » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 7:15 am

Benji Marshall’s career has come full circle.
Turning 34 before the start of the next season, the Wests Tigers legend has extended his career for another year in 2019, with the club he won a premiership with in 2005.

In this wide-ranging interview with foxsports.com.au, a relaxed Marshall opens up and what is driving him in his 18th season of NRL — what new coach Michael Maguire has brought to the club and why Tigers fans should be excited for 2019.
The rigours of Maguire’s pre-seasons

Marshall is stuffed. He has just finished a gruelling pre-season training session under new coach Maguire, who is notorious for his toughness. Marshall is no longer a spring chicken, but through his tired voice still beams the excitement he had when he burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old back in 2003.

“I’m tired, this is my 18th pre-season and it never gets any easier,” Marshall admits.

“But no way do I have regrets about playing on. There are so many other worse things that you could be doing and I’m still having fun.”


Marshall is playing on for the right reasons, not for a fat pay packet. Two seasons ago he was struggling to find a club after the Dragons let him go. It was thanks to Wayne Bennett and Ivan Cleary that he was able to revive his career.

Marshall says his younger teammates give him the inspiration to keep going. The legs may be older, but his spirit burns as bright as ever to test himself against the younger brigade.

“That is half the battle is competing with those younger boys,” Marshall says.

“When you get older you need the young guys challenging you, to push you and make you better.

“Especially after last season I just wanted to rip in again with all the boys and that’s how it has been.”
Marshall says the rumours are true about Maguire — he’s tough.

The premiership-winning mentor joined the club after Cleary reunited with the Panthers and has brought about quick changes.

“There are no easy sessions with Madge,” Marshall says.

“His whole philosophy is you have got to work hard to get success. The rumours are true about him, he is definitely a tough man when it comes to training.

“When you hear him talk you understand why we want to be one of the fittest teams and it drives you to want to be fitter and train harder and keep putting in more.
“His style has been a real eye opener.”

The Tigers came along in leaps and bounds in 2018, but they still missed the finals, finishing ninth.

The club haven’t made the finals since 2011 when Marshall at the peak of his powers, and he took them to a top four finish.

“Madge can bring consistency to the Tigers,” Marshall says.

“He is definitely a big advocate for leadership and standards of behaviour. He is big on the leaders driving the culture and not accepting anything that is below our standards.”
Wunderkind Kalyn Ponga

Marshall reserves high praise for Kalyn Ponga, calling him the ‘most freakish talent’ he’s ever seen.

Funnily enough, his early career somewhat mirrors that of the Knights’ superstar.

Both players burst onto the scene at a young age with brilliant footwork and Ponga is well-placed to have as big an impact on international rugby league as Marshall.

The pair met for the first time when they took part in the launch of the new Battle Royale mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Marshall was struck by how cool Ponga actually is.

“I’m a big Call of Duty fan from way back and I’ve been playing since the first one came out, so it was awesome to play with Kalyn and go head-to-head with him,” Marshall says.

“I just can’t get believe how much of a cool cat he is.

“He is just so cruisy and calm and it seems like nothing phases him. Whether its footy or gaming he is the same and he is so much better than me at both.”

Marshall represented his native New Zealand on 26 occasions and won a World Cup in 2008. Ponga has ties to New Zealand, but has pledged his allegiance to Australia and the Maroons, who he debuted for in 2018.

Marshall believes that Ponga’s attitude and drive will help him deal with the attention that comes with being one of the best players in the game.

“Kalyn is so humble,” Marshall says. “He is just the most freakish talent I have seen throughout my time playing first grade.

“Being able to play against him at such a young age is a real honour. The thing that put things in perspective was his Origin debut and what he was able to achieve in that game.

“The way he defended in the front line and how freakish he is with the ball, I was actually in awe.

“If you want to look at what he can do for rugby league you just need to look at what he has already done at such a young age.

“To miss out on the Dally M Medal by two points is a massive achievement and if he didn’t get injured there he probably would have won it.”

Luke Brooks and a standing ovation

The Tigers have their own young superstar, Luke Brooks, who has committed to the club on a five-year-deal. He had some unfair comparisons to Andrew Johns early in his career, but the 23-year-old is starting to show the promise of his early talent.

Marshall believes the Tigers can now build the club around the reigning Dally M Halfback of the year.

“I’m really happy about that and seeing his development. There was a lot of pressure and expectation on him over the years,” Marshall says.

“I think for our club it is very exciting for the fans and the players. When it got announced the team all stood up and gave him a mad standing ovation.

“We were just pumped because there were rumours out there that clubs were chasing him and it was a massive moment for our club.”

How the game has changed since he started his NRL career

The NRL has changed a lot since Marshall first started out 18 years ago.

“Professionalism has been the biggest change,” Marshall says.

“Defences are more structured now and the game is more professional on a whole.

“All the players seem to be bigger, faster, stronger. There are sports scientists in the game now. GPS measuring wasn’t there when I first started.

“But the fundamentals of the game are still the same. Who runs the hardest and tackles the hardest is going to win.”

The game has also changed a lot off the field. For better or worse the players are under so much more scrutiny these days. While Marshall concedes there are people that do the wrong thing and they need to be punished, he remains frustrated that all NRL players seemed to get tarred with the same brush.

“It does dampen the game when you hear all the disappointing off-field stuff,” Marshall says.

“We always seem to talk about the negative things that are happening.

“You only hear about the one per cent of players with indiscretions. I’m a big advocate for the positive things in the game, so I try and focus on that.

“But the bad things unfortunately are not a good look for the whole game and reflect badly on all the players.”

What’s in the future?

Marshall sits just 11 games short of the magic 300-game milestone. For a player who had five of his first six seasons cut short by injury, it is a remarkable feat.

However, he is reluctant to put an end date on his illustrious career.

“I don’t know if it is my last year,” Marshall says. “I think my body will probably tell me that.

“I could and I couldn’t play on and that decision might not be up to me, but I just want to enjoy it like it is my last year.

“That is what I did last year, so I am just going to run with that again and enjoy every moment of it.”

It also remains unclear what role he will play for the team in 2019.
Marshall was not expected to start last season but Josh Reynolds’ injury struggles gave him an opportunity to cement a spot in the halves.

The Tigers’ legend took the chance and ran with it, starting in 21 games, his most in a season since 2015.

For Marshall, getting that starting No.6 jersey in 2019 is a personal goal, but he just wants what is best for the Tigers.

“Madge has stressed that coming in we’ve all got a blank piece of paper, so no one is safe in any position,” Marshall explains.

“It is a battle of pre-season and trials and anything can happen, but it is the same as last year and whatever is going to be best for the team.

“If that means starting or on the bench or playing reserve grade, I’m prepared to do it.”

Whenever the end comes for Marshall, fans will be hopeful it is on his terms.

No Tiger has earned it more.
:sign: + :deadhorse: = Ivan in a nutshell


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Post by jadtiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 7:50 am

Lots of prime fluff there(not having a shot at you TDB so pleease dont be offended)

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Post by TheDaBoss » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 10:45 am

jadtiger wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 7:50 am
Lots of prime fluff there(not having a shot at you TDB so pleease dont be offended)
nah ag mate, ;)
:sign: + :deadhorse: = Ivan in a nutshell

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Post by 851 » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 12:35 pm

If Benji is our regular 6 I will not be happy, playing on in 2020, please, give me a break
Go hard or go home

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Post by jadtiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 12:39 pm

851 wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 12:35 pm
If Benji is our regular 6 I will not be happy, playing on in 2020, please, give me a break
Agreed


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Post by happy tiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 1:04 pm

Lets be honest , his prime motivation is 300 games and dragging every cent he can out of the game

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Post by prattenparkchild » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:10 pm

I'd rather read this than the Zane Musgrave situation. However Musgrave and his stupid actions are placing negative pieces in the press. Maybe this was a fluff item waiting its time. Don't mind it but it surely confirms Benji can only be a back up this season and 2019 should be his last.

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Post by happy tiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:16 pm

prattenparkchild wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:10 pm
I'd rather read this than the Zane Musgrave situation. However Musgrave and his stupid actions are placing negative pieces in the press. Maybe this was a fluff item waiting its time. Don't mind it but it surely confirms Benji can only be a back up this season and 2019 should be his last.
For me I worry about if Benji is playing ISP and then looks like he won't reach his 300 games , similarly to Robbie if Liddle is 1st pick

Will they feel bitter and become disenchanted if they miss the 300 games and cause issues .......

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Post by prattenparkchild » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:24 pm

I can only assume they are aware of situation and know what's up. Maguire sure won't be bullied into selecting players to keep them happy. I'm sure if either Marshall or Farah throw tantrums etc they will be shown the door by 30 June. I feel they're professional enough to do the right thing. They're legends to me and I don't want them to wreck it in their last fling.

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Post by Geo. » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:28 pm

happy tiger wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:16 pm
prattenparkchild wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:10 pm
I'd rather read this than the Zane Musgrave situation. However Musgrave and his stupid actions are placing negative pieces in the press. Maybe this was a fluff item waiting its time. Don't mind it but it surely confirms Benji can only be a back up this season and 2019 should be his last.
For me I worry about if Benji is playing ISP and then looks like he won't reach his 300 games , similarly to Robbie if Liddle is 1st pick

Will they feel bitter and become disenchanted if they miss the 300 games and cause issues .......
yeah... :roll:
Wests Tigers don't need a Coach.. The playing group has taken over..
happy tiger wrote:
Thu 25 Oct, 2018 12:17 am
OK I was wrong
happy tiger wrote:
Thu 22 Nov, 2018 12:13 am
I know at times I'm not always the brightest light in the kitchen

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Post by Lauren » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:44 pm

Yeah actually love the article as it’s a bit refreshing with the other stuff going on and I think both players realised a long time ago that their days are numbered.
They are still Tigers legends nonetheless and deserve a farewell that shows this. We officially say goodbye to the last ties to that 2005 Grand Final.....and come round 25 I no doubt will be a bit emotional.
Last edited by Lauren on Tue 11 Dec, 2018 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by willow » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:46 pm

prattenparkchild wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:24 pm
I can only assume they are aware of situation and know what's up. Maguire sure won't be bullied into selecting players to keep them happy. I'm sure if either Marshall or Farah throw tantrums etc they will be shown the door by 30 June. I feel they're professional enough to do the right thing. They're legends to me and I don't want them to wreck it in their last fling.
One thing Madge won't tolerate is child-like behavior from grown adults.

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Post by mike » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 3:36 pm

happy tiger wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 1:04 pm
Lets be honest , his prime motivation is 300 games and dragging every cent he can out of the game
You know him that well Happy?
Western Suburbs supporter since 1960 | Balmain junior since 1967 | Wests Tigers supporter since 1999

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Post by happy tiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 4:04 pm

mike wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 3:36 pm
happy tiger wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 1:04 pm
Lets be honest , his prime motivation is 300 games and dragging every cent he can out of the game
You know him that well Happy?
Never met him Mike

Met Robbie in Townsville , has a bit of a sense of humour , WHU had just Liverpool , day after his Footy Show appearance after the Tallis debacle

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Post by happy tiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 4:06 pm

Geo. wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:28 pm
happy tiger wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:16 pm
prattenparkchild wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:10 pm
I'd rather read this than the Zane Musgrave situation. However Musgrave and his stupid actions are placing negative pieces in the press. Maybe this was a fluff item waiting its time. Don't mind it but it surely confirms Benji can only be a back up this season and 2019 should be his last.
For me I worry about if Benji is playing ISP and then looks like he won't reach his 300 games , similarly to Robbie if Liddle is 1st pick

Will they feel bitter and become disenchanted if they miss the 300 games and cause issues .......
yeah... :roll:
Yeah because it isn't as if they done it before :brick:

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Post by supercoach » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 4:09 pm

Not a word about Clearygate. I thought he would at least say something about it. Anyway I guess the word from above is to move on and not dwell on the past

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Post by kiwitiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 4:59 pm

Am I stupid? He debuted in 2003 had half a year off, but this is his 18th season of NrL? Or is it 18 years of rl? But that is not what is written in the second paragraph

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Post by kiwitiger » Tue 11 Dec, 2018 5:03 pm

happy tiger wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 4:06 pm
Geo. wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:28 pm
happy tiger wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:16 pm
prattenparkchild wrote:
Tue 11 Dec, 2018 2:10 pm
I'd rather read this than the Zane Musgrave situation. However Musgrave and his stupid actions are placing negative pieces in the press. Maybe this was a fluff item waiting its time. Don't mind it but it surely confirms Benji can only be a back up this season and 2019 should be his last.
For me I worry about if Benji is playing ISP and then looks like he won't reach his 300 games , similarly to Robbie if Liddle is 1st pick

Will they feel bitter and become disenchanted if they miss the 300 games and cause issues .......
yeah... :roll:
Yeah because it isn't as if they done it before :brick:
When has benji played reserves at wt? He wasn't bitter at the donkey's when he played there. So where does this judgement come from? You have stated it as fact so obviously has happened before?

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