Benji Marshall could play on until 2021 Rugby League World Cup


Tigers coach Michael Maguire, who is also in charge of the Kiwis, was happy for his black, white and orange poster boy to reach his own decision.

But Maguire was backing Marshall to play every game this season, and be more than capable of coping with the physical and mental demands that come with such an important position.

It’s not lost on some Benji Marshall could go on one more year and bow out with a New Zealand World Cup.Credit:AAP

He was he best player on the ground in the opening-round win over St George Illawarra having been elevated to co-captain again on the eve of the season.

Maguire knows there is no price you can place on Marshall’s off-field influence – for club or country – and how experience has become more important than ever in an era where social media has landed so many young players in trouble.

Another big positive is if Marshall did push on, he would cost the Tigers next to nothing, something he’s admitted himself in the past.

“One thing about Benji is he lives in the ‘now’, and he’s just grateful for the game to be back,” Maguire said. “If he’s fit and healthy and playing well there’s no reason he can’t play every game this year.

No stopping the King.

No stopping the King.Credit:Getty

“Why would you give him a rest? He wants to play footy. And I want him to play good footy and keep pushing the team around as a leader.

“Some of the greats like [Manly legend] Steve Menzies kept playing on. Cameron Smith keeps going. And you have to remember Benji missed a few years early on with injury, and that’s given him the opportunity to keep playing now.”

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If the sight of Marshall bouncing around the park this week has excited Maguire, so has the return of prop Russell Packer.

There were serious discussions about Packer being medically retired over the summer given he had not been able to run without experiencing excruciating pain in a toe.

His big-money deal, understood to be worth around $1.4m the next two years, could have also paved the way for the club to go hard after a marquee forward like David Fifita.

The 30-year-old Packer was last sighted hobbling from the field during the Easter Monday massacre against Parramatta in round six last year, but is set to join the squad for his first ball work session next week.

“He’s back running and it’s the best he’s run since I’ve been at the club,” Maguire said. “He hasn’t been able to run for about 16 months. I really hope for his sake he can get back because he’s already gone through a long journey to get to where he is now.”

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