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I am just an average rugby player, says candid Benji Marshall of NRL comeback

I was just average: Benji Marshall will return to the NRL after a fruitless stint with the Blues in Super Rugby.

I was just average: Benji Marshall will return to the NRL after a fruitless stint with the Blues in Super Rugby. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Benji Marshall has no regrets about his move to rugby union and believes he will be better for the experience when he returns to the NRL this season.

Marshall, who received just 212 minutes of game time in eight Super Rugby matches for the Auckland Blues, insists frustration at the lack of opportunity was not the reason for his decision to seek a release and described himself as "just an average rugby player".

In an interview with Fairfax Media on Monday, a relaxed Marshall spoke honestly about why his switch to union "just didn't work out" as he and Blues coach John Kirwan had hoped.

"My lack of the technical aspects of rugby union was what was letting me down and I felt like I was playing rugby league on a rugby field with 14 other rugby players," Marshall said. 

"But I definitely don't regret it because I have got everything I wanted to get out of it except the performance on the field, which just hasn't worked out the way I wanted it to and I am just an average rugby player. I got a fresh start back in New Zealand, got fit, got the motivation, got the hunger and I feel real good and feel fresh."

However, the 29-year-old said he had learnt a lot in the eight months since he left Wests Tigers and was keen to bring that knowledge to the NRL again after instructing his manager Martin Tauber to open talks about joining a new club once his release is approved by the New Zealand Rugby Union.

"The thing that coming here has made me realise is that I got comfortable and probably took it for granted a bit [at the Tigers]," Marshall said.

"When I came here I had to work so hard for it and I was in a position I hadn't been in before, and it has given me that motivation back to be the best.

"I had a crack at it and it just didn't work out but honestly I haven't been this happy for a long time and I feel like I am a better person for being here. It has helped me having to put myself out there a bit more and get to understand the younger guys."

The rule changes introduced in the NRL this season to speed up the game are likely to suit Marshall, who became disillusioned and decided to change codes after a dispute over a new five-year contract he believed the Tigers had agreed to.

Cronulla, St George Illawarra, Parramatta, South Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are all likely to interested in a star playmaker of Marshall's calibre and experience.

But after shifting between fullback and five-eighth in his limited appearances for the Blues, Marshall said he could play a number of positions in the NRL.

"I think I could play halfback, five-eighth or fullback," said Marshall, who has watched "every game" of NRL this season and described the standard of football as "awesome".

"I have learnt some new skills while I have been here. I feel fit and I feel good so I am ready for the next part. It might take a few weeks to get a feel for it again but in my head I understand the game properly which is probably the most important thing."

After playing the final 42 minutes at five-eighth in the Blues' loss to the Hurricanes on Friday night, Marshall had a meeting with Kirwan on the weekend in which it was suggested he either play the rest of the season in the lower tiers to help prepare him for the 2015 Super Rugby competition or return to rugby league.

"My options were to either go back and play club rugby for the rest of the year and develop that way, then play in the ITM Cup and come back after having that experience and knowledge to try and make it again next year," Marshall said. "The other option was to go back to what I already know the best. 

"The decision was not about being frustrated about game time, I love it here. I have probably got a couple of years left in me realistically and I want those to be enjoyable and competitive and at the higest level. I don't really want to go back to club level and have to start again in rugby." 

92 comments

  • How can South Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane afford Marshall and still be under the salary cap? I'd be looking askance at the Dragons too after they bumped up Dugan's contract.

    Commenter
    Numbers
    Date and time
    April 22, 2014, 12:38AM
    • Souths lost 10 players since last year, they will easily be under the cap - and that's why they are recruiting heavily at the moment.

      Commenter
      Tony
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 22, 2014, 9:59AM
    • We all saw how he played in his last year at the Tigers - VERY POORLY.
      Any serious / decent coach would not pay him big bucks, he is not worth it. He is however a great marketing attraction for any club so third-party deals could top up his pay.
      He would be a good mentor for some of the younger guys, but he wont be a quick fix to any club.

      Commenter
      Scotty
      Date and time
      April 22, 2014, 10:15AM
    • I agree with Scotty on this one. What coach would want him? The bloke can't tackle and he wasn't even any good with the ball in hand in his last season at the tigers. At to that the difficulty that the coach had in managing his personality. Benji would be an expensive liability for most clubs. Cronulla would be mad to buy him.

      Commenter
      Ben
      Location
      Newcastle
      Date and time
      April 22, 2014, 12:22PM
  • Benji is an average rugby union or league player now. He a was a very good rugby league player for a number of years, but he became an average player a couple of years ago.

    Commenter
    Duck
    Date and time
    April 22, 2014, 5:25AM
    • Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. There's a long list of veteran players who rejuvenated their careers by changing clubs. I reckon Marshall could be good value to the right club with the right coach for him.

      Commenter
      alto
      Date and time
      April 22, 2014, 9:13AM
    • Totally agree.

      Commenter
      Sona
      Date and time
      April 22, 2014, 9:26AM
    • He is only 29 and those magical skills he showed pre 2010 have not disappeared. I personally would like to see him back in the NRL and would not be surprised if he finds that form again which would only benefit the new club and the game.
      I dont understand the hate really. I know his departure was not on the best of terms but the marriage ended so time to get back on the market. I do not see why people should hold it against him. It is like people want to see him fail.

      Commenter
      Sauce Head
      Date and time
      April 22, 2014, 10:01AM
  • The two clubs that have not been mentioned and IMO could really use him are Canberra and North Queensland. As a Dragons supporter I say pass thank you.

    Commenter
    Man From Mars
    Date and time
    April 22, 2014, 5:34AM
    • Yep, NQ Cows need a decent hooker. Isn't that where old backs end up?

      Commenter
      Jill Barnes
      Location
      Townsville
      Date and time
      April 22, 2014, 8:44AM

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NRL Season 2015

Round 1
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PAR 42 vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
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NEW 24 vs NZW 14 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs WST 19 Report Stats
NQL 4 vs SYD 28 Report Stats
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PEN 24 vs CBY 18 Report Stats
CRO 20 vs CBR 24 Report Stats
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STG 4 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBY 32 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
CRO 2 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
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PEN 40 vs GCT Report Stats
MAN 24 vs MEL 22 Stats
NQL 14 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
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SOU 34 vs SYD 26 Stats
CBR 6 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
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WST 22 vs STG 4 Stats
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Round 3
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MAN 12 vs CBY 16 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
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NZW 29 vs PAR 16 Report Stats
CBR 20 vs STG 22 Report Stats
MEL 36 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
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SOU 20 vs WST 6 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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SYD 20 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR 29 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
WST 24 vs CBY 25 Report Stats
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NEW 26 vs PEN 14 Report Stats
CRO 22 vs GCT 24 Report Stats
STG 12 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
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NZW 16 vs BRI 24 Report Stats
SYD 34 vs CBR 6 Report Stats
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NQL 18 vs MEL 17 Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
CBY 17 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 16 vs BRI 26 Report Stats
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MAN 16 vs CBR 29 Report Stats
NEW vs STG 13 Report Stats
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SYD 12 vs CRO 20 Report Stats
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PAR 6 vs WST 22 Report Stats
MEL 30 vs NZW 14 Report Stats
PEN 10 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
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Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 22 vs SYD 18 Report Stats
CRO 22 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
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PAR 16 vs GCT 38 Report Stats
NZW 32 vs WST 22 Report Stats
PEN 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
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CBR 10 vs MEL 14 Report Stats
STG 31 vs CBY 6 Report Stats
Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU 12 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY 28 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
STG 12 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
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GCT 32 vs PEN 6 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
MEL 17 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
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WST 22 vs CBR 30 Report Stats
NEW 22 vs PAR 28 Report Stats
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CRO 18 vs SOU 10 Stats
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CBY 14 vs WST 38 Stats
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NZW 28 vs GCT 32 Report Stats
NEW 24 vs NQL 26 Report Stats
SYD 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
MEL 10 vs MAN 12 Stats
BRI 28 vs PAR 16 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN 26 vs CRO 18 Stats
SOU 22 vs CBR 30 Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 8 vs PEN 5 Report Stats
SYD 36 vs WST 4 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR 56 vs GCT 16 Stats
CRO 16 vs NZW 20 Stats
NQL 23 vs CBY 16 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 30 vs NEW 10 Stats
PAR 10 vs MEL 28 Stats
Mon, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 16 vs STG 10 Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CBY 10 vs SYD 24 Stats
NQL 31 vs BRI 20 Stats
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PAR 13 vs NZW 17 Report Stats
GCT 22 vs CRO 23 Report Stats
MEL 16 vs SOU 12 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
STG 32 vs CBR 18 Report Stats
NEW 22 vs WST 12 Stats
Mon, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 10 vs PEN 11 Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NQL 8 Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR 34 vs CBY 41 Stats
Mon, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW 18 vs BRI 31 Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN 20 vs PAR 26 Stats
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GCT 16 vs SOU 22 Report Stats
CBR 12 vs BRI 24 Stats
NQL 18 vs MAN 14 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
NZW 24 vs NEW 20 Stats
STG 42 vs CRO 6 Stats
Mon, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 24 vs MEL 2 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MAN 19:35SUN
WST vs GCT 19:35VAS
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CBR 15:00HS
SOU vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
PEN vs MEL 19:30Pepper Stadium
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SYD 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs STG 16:00ANZ
PAR vs NQL 19:00Pirtek Stadium
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Round 14
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:45ANZ
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SYD 18:00MSS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT vs CBY 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
Mon, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs PAR 19:00AAMI
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Round 15
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs WST 19:45BO
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NQL 15:00GIO Stadium
GCT vs NZW 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
CBY vs PEN 19:30ANZ
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
MEL vs BRI 16:00AAMI
Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs SYD 19:00AS
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Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 19:35SUN
SOU vs MAN 19:35ANZ
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs CBR 15:00MSS
NQL vs CRO 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
PAR vs STG 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs GCT 14:00AS
WST vs PEN 16:00VAS
Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MEL 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
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Round 17
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:45Pepper Stadium
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs CRO 16:00BO
Mon, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WST vs PAR 19:00ANZ
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Round 18
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NEW 19:45GIO Stadium
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SYD 17:30Pepper Stadium
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs MEL 14:00MSS
CRO vs STG 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus Super Stadium
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Round 19
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CBY 19:35ANZ
MEL vs PEN 19:35AAMI
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CRO 15:00GIO Stadium
NEW vs GCT 17:30HS
STG vs SOU 19:30SCG
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NZW 14:00AS
BRI vs WST 16:00SUN
Mon, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NQL 19:00BO
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Round 20
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs GCT 19:35SUN
WST vs SYD 19:35ANZ
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs MAN 15:00MSS
SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
MEL vs STG 19:30AAMI
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CBR 14:00Pepper Stadium
CBY vs CRO 16:00Belmore Sports Ground
Mon, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs PAR 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
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Round 21
Thu, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs CRO 22:00MSS
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
MAN vs BRI 00:00TBA
WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
GCT vs PAR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
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Round 22
Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs STG 22:00MSS
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
CRO vs NQL 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
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Round 23
Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
CBY vs GCT 00:00TBA
NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
PEN vs NZW 00:00Pepper Stadium
CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
SYD vs PAR 00:00AS
CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
WST vs NEW 00:00CSS
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Round 24
Wed, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs NQL 22:00MSS
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs PEN 00:00WIN
SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
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Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CRO 00:00Pirtek Stadium
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
SOU vs BRI 00:00AS
CBR vs PEN 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SYD 00:00BO
MEL vs NQL 00:00AAMI
WST vs NZW 00:00CSS
GCT vs STG 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
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Round 26
Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MEL 00:00SUN
CBY vs NZW 00:00ANZ
NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs WST 00:00ANZ
PAR vs CBR 00:00Pirtek Stadium
PEN vs NEW 00:00Pepper Stadium
SYD vs SOU 00:00AS
CRO vs MAN 00:00Remondis Stadium
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Brisbane Broncos 12 9 3 0 18
North Queensland Cowboys 12 9 3 0 18
Melbourne Storm 11 7 4 0 16
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South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 7 5 0 14
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Penrith Panthers 11 5 6 0 12
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