The Chronicle

Family first for retiring Benji


BENJI Marshall knocked back a 2022 contract with the Gold Coast Titans because he knew the time was right to call curtains on one of the NRL’s great careers.

Marshall announced his retirement on Wednesday following a glittering 346-game NRL career that has seen him enter the debate to become New Zealand’s first rugby league Immortal.

Marshall, 36, played a remarkable 19 seasons in the NRL with the Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra Dragons, Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs.

He starred in the Tigers’ 2005 NRL premiershi­p season and played 31 Tests for New Zealand, including the Kiwis’ memorable 2008 World Cup triumph.

Marshall’s final season ended in heartbreak as the Rabbitohs lost last Sunday’s grand final 14-12 to Penrith.

While he had a one-year deal on the table from the Titans, he knew the time was right to go out on his terms.

“If I didn’t make this decision now I would have played until I was 40. I just love the game so much,” he said.

“It feels like the right time. There was a lot of good stuff being said about me and I’d hate for that to go on for one season too long.

“I did consider playing on but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it was time to move on.

“My family’s put a lot of sacrifice into moving around and doing things for me.

“It’s time for me to change that and put my family first.”

Marshall made his NRL debut for Wests Tigers as an 18-year-old in 2003.

He played 27 games for the Tigers in 2005 on the way to Wests winning the premiershi­p, which is the joint venture’s only NRL title.

Marshall’s famous flick pass to sink North Queensland has long been remembered as one of the greatest moments in NRL grand final history

He played 201 games across 10 seasons in his first stint at the Tigers before making a shock switch to rugby union with the Auckland Blues.

Marshall’s Super Rugby experiment lasted just six games before he found himself yearning for a return to the NRL, St George Illawarra bringing him back to the 13-man game.

After three seasons with the Dragons, Marshall’s career was at a crossroads and if not for a lifeline from Wayne Bennett at the Broncos in 2017 it may have come to an end.

After a year in Brisbane, Marshall made a fairytale return to Wests and spent three more seasons there before being squeezed out again.

A one-season cameo at Souths ended with them falling agonisingl­y short and Bennett said Marshall deserved to be remembered among the game’s greatest players.

“The greatest legacy for players is that young boys grow up seeing them play and want to be like Benji Marshall, Andrew Johns, Allan Langer and those wonderful players. He’ll be up there in all of those conversati­ons,” he said.

 ?? Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty ?? Benji Marshall poses with wife Zoe and children Fox and Ever on the Gold Coast yesterday.
Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Benji Marshall poses with wife Zoe and children Fox and Ever on the Gold Coast yesterday.

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