Benji Marshall has backed Terry Campese to bounce back to form. Photo: Jay Cronan
St George Illawarra five-eighth Benji Marshall says Raiders captain Terry Campese ''deserves the respect'' to continue his NRL career in Canberra and described him as the ''backbone'' of the club.
Campese's future at the Raiders has been clouded after the club blocked a potential move to English Super League club Hull on a three-year contract when a release could not be agreed.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has denied Campese is being forced out, but admitted he would be judged on form if he is to retain his place in the team next year and not play for NSW Cup feeder club Mounties.
Benji Marshall was one of the Dragons' best in their win over the Raiders on Saturday. Photo: Graham Tidy
The 30-year-old playmaker watched the 34-16 loss to the Dragons at Canberra Stadium and it's unclear if he will return this year from an oblique injury.
Marshall has faced Campese at club and international level and believes the former Kangaroos pivot should be given the chance to play on with the Raiders next season.
"I think he deserves the respect of an opportunity to lead the team around,'' Marshall said.
"I've known Campo for a long time and he's been one of the Raiders' best for a long time.
"He's been the backbone of this club for a long time and someone who has been a leader here.
''If that does happen, it'd be sad to see that because I think he still has a lot to offer the game.''
Speaking on ABC Radio on Saturday, Stuart said the club and Campese were "embarrassed" by media reports in recent days that the Raiders had blocked a potential three-year deal mid-season for Campese to join Hull FC in the UK Super League.
"It made everybody feel embarrassed," Stuart said.
"It won't become a soap opera. It'll be handled professionally and decently.
''All along I've been trying to protect Terry and look after Terry's interests.
"I've been very upfront with Terry, Terry knows exactly where I stand and where he stands ... Terry knows he only has to come and talk to me to get the truth."
Marshall was in a similar situation with the Wests Tigers when he left the club last season after 201 games and 11 seasons.
He is starting to regain his best form with the Dragons after a switch to rugby union with the Auckland Blues.
Campese has been hampered since he had the first of his torn anterior cruciate ligaments in his knee in the 2010 semi-final against the Tigers.
''You don't lose that class overnight but what you do lose is confidence,'' Marshall said.
''I've been there in a place when you're down in yourself and you don't know how to get out of a hole and all you need is to play footy and to go back to basics.
''For him, he just needs that time out on the field.''