Benji Marshall

Benji Marshall (born 25 February 1985) is a New Zealand professional rugby league footballer who plays as a five-eighth or halfback for the Wests Tigers in the NRL.

Benji Marshall
Personal information
Full nameBenjamin Quentin Marshall[1]
Born (1985-02-25) 25 February 1985[2]
Whakatane, New Zealand
Height183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight91 kg (14 st 5 lb)
Playing information
Rugby league
PositionFive-eighth, Halfback
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2003–13 Wests Tigers 201 76 402 10 1118
2014–16 St. George Illawarra 54 8 0 3 35
2017 Brisbane Broncos 13 1 0 0 4
2018– Wests Tigers 40 6 0 2 26
Total 308 91 402 15 1183
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2005–19 New Zealand 28 9 35 0 106
2010–13 NRL All Stars 4 1 8 0 20
Rugby union
PositionFly-half / Fullback
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2014 Blues 6 1 2 0 9
As of 22 September 2019
Source: [3]

He previously played for the Wests Tigers, St. George Illawarra Dragons and the Brisbane Broncos in the National Rugby League, and the NRL All Stars.[3]

Marshall was also briefly a professional rugby union player with the Blues in Super Rugby.

Marshall played for ten seasons in the National Rugby League for Sydney club Wests Tigers, with whom he won the 2005 NRL Premiership. He has been noted for his flamboyant attack, including sidesteps,[4] no-look passes[5] and flick-passes.[6] In 2010 Marshall won the Golden Boot Award for the best international player.[7]

Early years

Marshall was born in Whakatane, New Zealand.

He was raised without his biological father, but has spoken of the influence of his foster-father Michael Doherty,[8] and other men within his extended family. He has said he had, "10 or 11 fathers … which is not a bad thing."[9] He was a pupil at Whakatane High School.[10] The eldest of three brothers, he was offered a scholarship to play for a high school in Gold Coast, Queensland when he was 16. While attending Keebra Park State High School, Marshall played for the Australian Schoolboys team in 2003,[11] and also represented Australia in touch football that same year.[12] Although eligible to represent Australia, Marshall declared his allegiance to the New Zealand Kiwis early in his career.[13]

Rugby league career


In Round 20 of the 2003 NRL season, Marshall made his NRL début for the Wests Tigers against the Newcastle Knights, coming on as a replacement in the 14th minute as fullback. The Wests Tigers won the match 52-12 at Campbelltown Stadium.[14] Marshall continued to make appearances for Wests Tigers for the remainder of 2003 when his studies allowed, playing halfback. In Round 24 against the Penrith Panthers, Marshall scored his first NRL try in the Tigers 44-28 loss at Penrith Stadium.[15] He scored one try from four appearances in his debut season.


Marshall starred in the pre-season World Sevens competition helping the Wests Tigers to win the tournament.[16] He began the season playing at centre until he dislocated his shoulder in Round 4 against the North Queensland Cowboys.[17][18] During his time off the Tigers struggled in attack. When he returned after four weeks, he was moved to the play-making position of five-eighth. From there, Marshall set the club on a record 3 match winning streak. He dislocated the same shoulder four weeks into his return in Round 13.[19] Marshall's season ended as he had surgery, finishing the year with 2 tries from 7 matches.


In 2005, Marshall injured his other shoulder in the opening minutes of the first trial match. After missing the opening round match, Marshall played five-eighth for the club's second match of the year against defending premiers, the Bulldogs. With an injury free run, Marshall demonstrated a passing, running, and kicking game to complement his stepping. He was able to score individual tries and set up tries for his team-mates. Marshall also made his New Zealand debut in the 2005 ANZAC Test. Marshall was a member of the Wests Tigers that defeated North Queensland Cowboys in the 2005 NRL grand final, where he famously set up a 90-metre try to Pat Richards, which was considered to be one of the best tries of grand final history.[20] The try involved a trademark 'flick pass', at about the 50-metre line to Richards. Marshall was named as New Zealand five-eighth for the 2005 Tri Nations tour. However, surgery on his weak shoulder in the off-season ruled him out and he also missed the 2006 World Club Challenge.


Marshall made his comeback from surgery against St George Illawarra in round 1, but broke his cheek bone.[21] He played the rest of the match and set up the winning try.

Making his comeback against the Cowboys, Marshall set up many tries with a mixture of stepping and perceptiveness. In the 79th minute he was injured by Cowboy's prop Carl Webb.[21] He popped his shoulder out but recovered in three weeks, playing for New Zealand in the ANZAC test. With another injury-free run he began producing dominating performances for the Tigers but eight weeks into his come-back he dislocated the same shoulder that had been dislocated against North Queensland, and he missed the rest of the season.


In 2007, Marshall again made his comeback from injury against the Melbourne Storm in Round 1. Marshall had to adapt to changes within the team such as the departure of halfback, Scott Prince, and the added responsibility of goal kicking while fullback, Brett Hodgson, was recovering from a knee injury. The Daily Telegraph later said, "Marshall had to become something else, he had to become an organiser, a dictator, a tactician. This never came naturally to him but he made himself into that type of player because he had to do it."[22]

Marshall was selected to play for New Zealand at five-eighth in the 2007 ANZAC test, kicking one goal in the 6–30 loss.[23] In round 8, Marshall sustained a fractured shoulder in a tackle where his arm was jammed between Melbourne's Israel Folau and the Tigers' Taniela Tuiaki, and didn't return until round 20. Following the season, he missed the Centenary Trans-Tasman Test due to injury and also missed the Kiwis' Tour of Great Britain and France.


In 2008 Marshall's injury troubles continued when he suffered a knee ligament tear in the third minute of the season's opening game.[24] He returned in round 7. Halfway through 2008, coach Tim Sheens' announced his plan to move Marshall to the halfback position during the 2009 season,[25] going as far as encouraging New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney to play Marshall in this role during the 2008 World Cup.[26] The suggestion was declined.[26]

"Benji equals anybody I've seen in terms of flair, and making something happen. He is a remarkable talent, born out of living on the edge. That's the way he is. He was made to be a footballer."

-Wayne Bennett[27]

Marshall was named in the 24-man Kiwis squad for the World Cup.[28] He captained New Zealand for the first time on 8 November, against England.[29] Marshall scored a try and kicked two conversions in the World Cup final victory over the Kangaroos. It was the Kiwis first ever World Cup victory, in a game they were considered "massive underdogs."[30]


In round one of the 2009 season, Marshall started at halfback alongside John Morris at five-eighth. By the third round of the season, Marshall began to make an impact in his new role, helping the team to a 40–24 win over the Sydney Roosters.[31]

In March, despite speculation that he might play rugby union in Japan, Marshall signed with the Wests Tigers for a further two seasons through to the end of 2011. Following Kiwis captain Nathan Cayless' retirement from international football, Marshall was named as captain in that year's ANZAC test.

Marshall returned to his old position of five-eighth from July,[32] though both Marshall and coach Tim Sheens insisted that Marshall had been switching between first and second receiver throughout the entire season.[33] He went on to be named at 5/8 in the Team of the Year as chosen by The Rugby League International Federation.[34]


In early 2010 Marshall signed a further extension with the Tigers, to stay at the club until the end of the 2015 season, saying, "I just can't see myself as anything other than a one-club man."[35] As captain of New Zealand, Marshall was an automatic selection for the NRL All Stars in 2010.[36]

In March 2010, Marshall scored two tries against the Parramatta Eels to become the highest try-scorer for the Wests Tigers, breaking the record of 43 previously held by Daniel Fitzhenry.[37] For the 2010 Anzac Test, he captained New Zealand at five-eighth in their loss against Australia. Later that year, in a match against the Titans, Marshall kicked a 51-metre long field goal, considered to be the longest in NRL history.[38] 2010 was the first season that Marshall had played without missing a game due to injury, and his form was thought to be close to his career-best.[39] He played in 34 games in 2010, the most of any NRL player.[40]

Marshall lead the Kiwis to victory in the 2010 Four Nations tournament, setting up two late tries in what was described as, "perhaps the finest game of his life."[22] He was then awarded the Rugby League World Golden Boot Award for international footballer of the year.[41] Big League magazine named him one of the year's five top players.[40]


As New Zealand captain, Marshall was again an automatic selection in the 2011 All Stars Match.

In March, Marshall was charged with assault after another man sustained a facial injury during an altercation with Marshall at a McDonald's restaurant in Sydney. In August, the judge dismissed the case, saying she had reasonable doubt that the injury was caused by Marshall.[42]

In round 14 of the 2011 season, Marshall scored 2 tries against the New Zealand Warriors. He had then scored a try against every team in the NRL.[43] Before the end of the season he had eclipsed Brett Hodgson as the highest scorer in the short history of the Wests Tigers, having amassed 797 points in 151 games.[44] Marshall was the top point-scorer for the 2011 NRL season. After the post-season test against Australia in Newcastle, Marshall travelled to England with the Kiwis for the 2011 Four Nations tournament.

On 3 November 2011 The annual RLIF Awards dinner was held at the Tower of London and Marshall was named stand-off half back of the year.[45]


Marshall began the 2012 season by captaining the NRL All Stars team to victory in the inaugural Arthur Beetson trophy.[46] He was one of the few players to appear in every Wests Tigers game for the year and, despite the club's poor showing, led the NRL in try assists and line-break assists in the regular season.[47][48] With the departure of Robert Lui in the off-season, the club tried a number of players at halfback in 2012, before Marshall switched from five-eighth in May.[49]

In the second last game of the regular season, Marshall kicked two goals to become the first Wests Tigers and 43rd player in the Australian competition to score one thousand points.[50] At the end of the season he was nominated for the Dally M halfback of the year.[51]

During the post-season Trans-Tasman Test 10-18 loss to Australia in Townsville, Marshall played his 20th game as New Zealand test captain, breaking the record for 'most capped skipper' for the Kiwis previously held by Gary Freeman since 1995.


As the incumbent New Zealand national captain, Marshall was again selected to play in the 2013 NRL All Stars game. Weeks later, New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney announced that Marshall had been dropped as the team's captain. Marshall said, "It was the proudest moment of my career, captaining my country. I was lucky enough that I got to break the record for most caps as Kiwi captain. The decision was Steve's and the New Zealand Rugby League's, and it's just a decision I'm just going to have to live with."[52]

By May, with the Wests Tigers on a losing streak, Marshall was dropped to the bench. Coach Mick Potter said, "We needed to change something around. We can't just keep doing what we've been doing and expect a result. Benji, as you could imagine, was disappointed. Disappointed is probably not hard enough."[53] Marshall later admitted he was playing badly and without confidence. "This year, I've hardly taken the line on and I've hardly been tackled. Over the first six rounds I was barely contributing to the team," he said.[54]

In July, Marshall sought a release from the remaining two years of his contract with Wests Tigers to pursue a career in rugby union, after the club declined to offer him a contract extension and upgrade that had been previously verbally agreed upon.[55][56] He finished the remainder of the season before leaving, and left the Wests Tigers as the club's all-time top try and point scorer.


Rugby union


In August Marshall entered negotiations with the Blues to play Super Rugby in New Zealand. He indicated his desire to play for the Auckland team, even if it meant a pay cut and the probability of starting on the bench.[57]

He signed with the Blues and was confirmed via Blues official YouTube channel. He signed a two-year deal with the Auckland franchise worth close to $500,000 a season.[58] Blues coach Sir John Kirwan hinted that number 10 (first five-eighth), not 15 (fullback), may be Marshall's ideal position.[59][60][61]

In February 2014, Marshall made his Super Rugby debut for the Blues against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin coming on off the bench in the 59th minute playing at Fullback which resulted in a re-shuffle with Charles Piutau shifting to the centres. In his debut game he set up a line-break assist to Peter Saili, which led to a try to Patrick Tuipulotu. However, the Blues end-up losing 21-29.[62]

On 15 March 2014, Marshall made his first appearance at fullback for the Blues for the clash against the South African team, the Lions at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. During the game, he scored his first Super Rugby try in the second half of the game (in the 80th minute). He made 10 runs (130 metres), 2 line-breaks, 3 Offloads and 2 Try-Assists - setting up a try to team outside-backs Frank Halai (in the 65th minute) and George Moala (in the 71st minute). Unfortunately, the Blues end-up losing 36-39. Despite the loss, Marshall made a couple of great touches with the ball and produce a strong performance in the game.[63] Following round 5 (of the 2014 Super Rugby Season), Marshall was named at Fullback in the Fox-Sports' Round 5 Super Rugby 'Team of the week'.[64]

However, on 23 April 2014, having made just one start and six appearances, Marshall was released from his contract with the Blues.[65]

Return to rugby league


On 9 May 2014, Marshall signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the St George Illawarra Dragons.[66][67] He finished the year with 3 tries.


In 2015, Marshall steered the Dragons to their first NRL finals series since coach Wayne Bennett left the club at the end of the 2011 season. The Dragons were defeated in golden point extra time by the Bulldogs in the first elimination final[68] with Marshall being forced from the field in the second half with an ankle injury.

Marshall finished equal second in the Dally M medal count, behind Johnathan Thurston, who won the People's Choice award, along with the Player of the Year and Halfback of the Year.


On 24 Jul 2016, Marshall played his 250th nrl game against former club Wests Tigers. Marshall was set to play game number 250 last weekend before a troublesome hamstring pushed it back a week but the silver lining is that the big game now comes against the club he played the bulk of his career for.


After rejecting a one-year extension worth $300,000, Marshall decided to reunite with Wayne Bennett and sign with the Brisbane Broncos on a one-year deal.[69][70] Marshall later said, ""I had nowhere to go so I called him and he just said, 'come to Brisbane'. He talked to me about just enjoying the game again, which I had lost. I've just been trying to do that ever since."[71] He played in 13 games for them, sometimes covering injured or representative players, and sometimes playing as a utility off the bench.


Marshall signed a deal in August 2017 to go back to his first club The Wests Tigers for one year. With the departure of Aaron Woods, Marshall was named as one of 5 co-captains at Wests Tigers, alongside Chris Lawrence, Elijah Taylor, Russell Packer and Josh Reynolds. Coach Ivan Cleary said, "I just think it's the right model for us right now. When we started this preseason it was pretty obvious straight away that there was no real pecking order. There was no set culture to adhere to. It was all new."[72] With the role rotating, Marshall made his return as on-field captain in round 3.

Named on the bench for his return in round 1, Marshall got a call-up to five-eighth after a late injury to Josh Reynolds, and was said to play a "central role" in the surprise victory over eventual premiers the Sydney Roosters.[73] Marshall said, "I’m just enjoying being back in this No.6 jersey and I’m going to give my all every week to try and stay in it. If that happens I’ll be pretty happy. I thought my career was coming to an end so to get this opportunity is a dream come true for me."[74] With Reynolds suffering further injuries, Marshall made 21 appearances for the season.


Marshall's contract renewal for 2019 was announced at the same time as long-time teammate Robbie Farah. Farah said, "Once he texted me late last night to tell me he was staying on again, it relieved the nerves, to be honest. To know he was there for another year - the two old boys at the club - it made me feel a lot better."[75]

Benji was selected to represent the New Zealand Kiwis for their matchup against Tonga on 22 June. He started as halfback, pairing with Shaun Johnson for a much anticipated halves combination. This was his first appearance for the Kiwis in seven years, and also his return to captaincy. They won the game 34-14.

Marshall made 19 appearances for the Wests Tigers in the 2019 NRL season as the club finished ninth on the table and missed out on the finals. The year also saw Marshall put in a number of strong performances.[76][77][78][79]

At the end of the regular season, Marshall captained New Zealand in two further tests, breaking the record for most matches as captain for them at 22. Wayne Bennett said, "I think it is great what the coach has done in bringing him back because he brings so much. They all get older, there's no doubt about that but they don't lose their skill level, they don't lose their commitment, they might lose a yard of speed but that's about all."[69]


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Preceded by
Nathan Cayless
New Zealand national rugby league team captain
Succeeded by
Simon Mannering

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