Benji Marshall announces shock return to where it all began

Alex ConradNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

After a brief spell away from where his glittering rugby league career began, Benji Marshall is back at the Wests Tigers.

Marshall made 346 appearances across two stints for the joint venture club since debuting in 2003 and returns as an official club ambassador having retired from playing at the end of the 2021 season.

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The 36-year-old was unceremoniously dumped by the Tigers towards the end of the 2020 season, and enjoyed the final year of his playing days with the Rabbitohs.

But with Tim Sheens — the coach who helped deliver the only premiership in the club’s 22-year history — returning as the side’s new director of football, Marshall has jumped back on board.

The opportunity to return to “a club that I’ve always loved” was a major pull for Marshall, as he looks to help in any way possible to ensure the Tigers’ longstanding finals drought doesn’t continue after the 2022 season.

“Wests Tigers and its fans have been part of my family for the majority of my career and I’m looking forward to continuing that journey together,” Marshall said in a club statement.

“This is an exciting new role that allows me to contribute to the club in a number of ways both on and off the field.

“I’m looking forward to helping grow the next generation of Wests Tigers players coming through our pathways and playing a part in bringing further success to this great club.”

Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe could barely contain his excitement at the thought of Marshall returning to the club and helping in a non-playing capacity.

“On behalf of all at the club, I’d like to say how pleased we are to be able to welcome Benji Marshall back home to Wests Tigers,” Pascoe said.

“Benji is inextricably linked with the heritage and DNA of Wests Tigers and his return to the club is something we’re incredibly proud to see happen.

“I have no doubt he will have a lasting impact on the connections that we are building at the club and our proud Members, corporate partners and fans everywhere will be delighted to see him back in the Wests Tigers colours he is synonymous with.”

In Marshall’s role, he will assist the club in multiple different departments with a focus on pathways and development.

The Kiwi will also aid the Tigers in a commercial capacity, including attendance at a number of official club functions and events throughout the 2022 season.

It represents somewhat of a surprise return, given the messy manner in which Marshall and the Tigers parted ways.

The star half had hoped to retire as a Tiger, but couldn’t hide his frustration at not being given the opportunity.

“It was a bit disappointing – but when I left the Tigers the first time, I didn’t think it was going to be a possibility to come back and play here again,” he told NRL 360 in 2020.

“I would have loved to have retired playing at the Wests Tigers. I feel like I might have to play somewhere else if I want to keep playing. It’s not angry – it’s more just wishing I could have retired here.

“I was a little bit disappointed the way I found out, reading it in the papers. I had a good chat with the coach and he laid out where I stood.

“When you hear from other sources that are not the coach or the club – you want to find out if it’s true or not. That’s part of playing first grade rugby league – clubs have to make hard decisions.”

Originally published as Benji Marshall announces shock return to where it all began

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