Benji Marshall has been declared fit for the West Tigers’ NRL clash with Parramatta.With Josh Reynolds on the cusp of returning, Benji Marshall is out to prove he deserves to keep the Wests Tigers No. 6 jersey.
The second coming of Marshall has been one of the feel-good storylines of the NRL season so far with the ex-Kiwis playmaker discovering a new lease on life in his second stint at Concord.
This year he was expected to serve as a bench utility and toil behind Reynolds and Luke Brooks as the 33-year-old’s career winds down.
But after Reynolds went down with a hamstring injury in the side’s final training session before round one, Marshall was thrown into the fray and hasn’t let down coach Ivan Cleary.
He was instrumental as the Tigers claimed the big scalps of the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne and has made a strong case to remain in the starting side.
Cleary said Reynolds was due back in “probably another couple of weeks” and he faces a stiff decision when that day arrives.
“It’s not just the first three weeks, he was good the whole pre-season as well,” Cleary said of Marshall.
“He brings a bit of guidance and confidence as well.
“It was really obvious that he was really keen to play and thought he had a lot to offer.
“I think that’s shown.”
Marshall suffered a torn lateral ligament in his left knee against the Broncos but won’t miss a match, due largely to the Tigers having the luxury of a 10-day turnaround.
In Monday’s clash with the winless and desperate Parramatta, he will have a chance to get one over the man who wore the Tigers No.6 for the past few seasons – Mitchell Moses.
Moses asked for a mid-season release from the Tigers last year and big things were expected of him and the Eels in 2018.
Things haven’t worked out as planned, however Parramatta coach Brad Arthur argued the Eels’ woes couldn’t be pinned on Moses or his halves partner Corey Norman.
“It’s hard when we haven’t got any ball,” Arthur said.
“When you talk about game management and owning a team, well you need the footy to do it.
“We’re the worst in the comp for possession – 40 per cent.
“The halves’ job is not to go out there and own the team defensively. He’s got to make his tackles. But the halves have got to own the team with the ball and the kicking game.”
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Wests Tigers are aiming to become the sixth team in the past 20 years to concede nine points or fewer in four consecutive matches.
* Going into round four, Wests Tigers had conceded the equal most penalties in the NRL (10.3 per game).
* Corey Norman will play his 150th NRL game in this match.