Defending Benji Marshall

Benji Marshall is one of about 5 people within Rugby League today that can win a game all on his own.

Forget how his team is playing, forget how far ahead the opposition is, when Benji Marshall is at his best he is simply unstoppable.

The 2012 season has been a pretty average one for Benji. Coming into the season as one of the premiership favorites, the Tigers never really got going. Injuries hurt, internal unrest caused issues, and it all culminated in Tim Sheens being sacked and talk that the club needed a broom through it.

Marshall had plenty of friends at the Tigers this season that didn’t have their best season. Marshall’s move from five-eighth to halfback was a bit surprising but there was never any doubt he had the ability to get the job done there. It was a move though that underlined the way the Tigers were being managed and coached.

Playing behind a beaten forward pack, something he has had to do for years now, Benji didn’t have too much to work with when he did get the ball in his hands. On top of that, his outside backs were bloody terrible this year. Take out Beau Ryan, who was the Tigers best player this year, the players Marshall had running off him were completely ineffective throughout the entire season.

Even the Tigers other big gun, Robbie Farah, had a season to forget. With everything Farah went through this season you can forgive him for that though.

So in a poor, over matched side, Benji Marshall could only do so much. I personally think he saw the writing on the wall early in the season and knew the Tigers probably were not going to be a team that was going to have a real tilt at the premiership in 2012. He did play differently this season. I think he played in a way to save himself a bit more than he normally has in the past. I can’t blame him for that. Having faced career ending injuries in the past, I would want Marshall to not go out there and get busted up trying to drag the Tigers to 9th place on the ladder.

To read in the Daily Telegraph today that “Benji Marshall Has Lost His Way” and that Phil Rothfield doesn’t rate him in the top 20 players in the game, I found that completely ridiculous.

I go back to the old “You have one game that your life depends on” argument. What players do you select? Who are the players that you know will step up and get the job done in an important moment.

Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Jonathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater….Benji Marshall….

You can not rate Benji Marshall on the disaster that was the 2012 season. He is a great player who never once tried to sugar coat the Tigers performance in 2012. He tried, but there is only so much he could do in a team that had massive issues and that has honestly been made to look a lot better than they actually were over the years because Benji Marshall took them kicking and screaming to wins.

Form is temporary, but class is perminant. Benji Marshall has been the most important player in a Premiership winning side in 2005, and a World Cup winning side in 2008.

He has nothing to prove to anyone.

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