Tigers need Benji to Marshall their forces
Benji Marshall in actions for the tigers against Souths (AAP Image/Action Photographic, Renee McKay)
Benjamin Quentin Marshall has got some work to do in the next five weeks to salvage credibility for himself and the Wests Tigers.
The latter part of season 2012 has been ordinary for the Tigers’ attacking kingpin who once created panic for the opposition whenever he handled the Steeden.
Nowadays, rival teams pretty much welcome the sight of Marshall in possession. He rarely makes line breaks (only five all season) and he is baffling his outside men with crab-like, sideline to sideline runs.
In addition, there are just two tries against his name and his once slick passing game tends to falter under pressure.
I realise coach Tim Sheens wants Marshall to be a more ‘mature’ player these days, urging him to ditch the unorthodox plays he attempted in his early days as a first grader but nothing is working at this crucial time of year for the player or his team.
The Wests Tigers have slipped down to 10th on the table and with a traffic jam building around eight spot, one more loss will kill any chance of a berth in the top eight.
Marshall was way below his best against the Rabbitohs last week and looks to be suffering from a severe lack of confidence in his own ability, and of those around him.
It was a sad sight as Marshall, at the top of his game, is one of the league’s most exciting ball runners who can unlock the tightest of defences.
The Souths boys looked content to see him with the ball in hand. More often than not, he was going nowhere fast. Benji looked to be trapped in a maze.
By contrast, his opposite number, John Sutton, was superb for the Rabbitohs. He took the line on repeatedly and passed and kicked to near perfection. It was the classic five-eighth’s game and one of the reasons why the Bunnies are rumbling towards a top four spot.
Marshall needs to urgently take stock of the situation and grab this Monday’s game against the rejuvenated Parramatta Eels by the scruff of the neck. It’s now or never.
He must somehow find his rugby league mojo and steer the Tigers back to the winners list in this game and the ones that follow against the Dragons, Bulldogs, Roosters and Storm.
Wests Tigers were title favourites when the season began and serious questions will be asked if they crash and burn before the playoffs.