Benji Marshall is officially a Rabbitoh.
Following his departure from the West Tigers at the end of the 2020 season, questions were looming over whether or not Marshall would make a return to the NRL for the 2021 season.
South Sydney was the answer to Marshall’s prayers offering him a one-year contract that kept him close to his family and allows him to continue working with the Fox Sports team.
Marshall joining the Rabbitohs will be the second time the half works under Bennett, who recently confirmed he’d be stepping down from the coaching position of the QLD Maroons to focus on South Sydney’s premiership campaign.
The pair worked together at the Broncos in 2017 and this will be the second time Bennett has given Marshall’s career a lifeline.
South Sydney is continuing their premiership hunt as they come off the back of three successive preliminary finals appearances, falling just shy of an elusive Grand Final and a shot at a premiership.
While Benji Marshall isn’t Wayne Bennett’s missing link in the quest for a record premiership for both the club and Bennett, he will still be an asset to the club regardless of how much time he spends on the field throughout the season.
Back in September, following Marshall’s dismissal from the Tigers, Bennett commented on the benefits of potentially bringing the half to Redfern.
“We’ve all seen Benji for a long time, so I don’t think I need to tell everybody about him, but I will tell you what you don’t see,” he said.
“He is an outstanding bloke, and he was outstanding with the players that we had at the Broncos at the time.
“We had a lot of young players there, and I can’t give him enough accolades for the contribution he made.”
Whilst at the time it was unlikely Marshall would be donning the Cardinal and Myrtle in 2021, it highlighted Marshall’s greatest asset for a club might not be what he can bring to the field.
Marshall brings a wealth of experience that any side chasing a premiership would be willing to take on.
The said experience will assist in the development of the younger members of the playing group, with Souths making a run for the premiership.
Head of Football, Mark Ellison recognized Marshall’s leadership qualities and knowledge of the game that will be valuable for the club.
“He’s a leader of men, he has been playing at the highest levels of the game over a long and distinguished career, he comes with the highest of recommendations from Wayne [Bennett],” he said.
“He will provide great support to the experienced halves pairing we have in Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker and his experience and knowledge he can pass down to the young up-and-coming halves we have at the club will be priceless.”
Having picked up players in the off-season such as Josh Mansour and Jai Arrow, along with the re-signings of Cameron Murray and Alex Johnston, South Sydney will be entering the 2021 season with a stronger team than previous years.
It will be a contest within the club to make the list of 17 that makes an appearance on game day.
However, Marshall will be an asset that South Sydney needs during Origin when Cody Walker will likely be called up into the Maroons side.
During South Sydney’s announcement of his one-year contract, Marshall emphasized the club’s quest for a premiership in the 2021 season is also his goal.
“It’s an opportunity for me to not only play but go out winning a competition. With this squad here, the coaches, it’s a great opportunity for that and that’s my goal,” he said.
“It’s been a great club for so long and to be playing here is very special to me.
The Rabbitohs fan base, as well, is so big, vocal, and passionate and I’m really looking forward to playing for the Souths Members rather than against them this year.”
Marshall’s NRL journey will likely come to an end following the 2021 season with the Rabbitohs.
With 324 games to his name, a 2005 premiership, and a strong international career for New Zealand, Benji Marshall has established himself in the NRL’s history books, and finishing at the League’s oldest club will be another note in his historic career regardless of the results of the 2021 season.