Marshall blasted for code switch ambition by Greg Martin

Elisha Pearce Columnist

By Elisha Pearce, Elisha Pearce is a Roar Expert

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    Benji Marshall’s manager has advised the Tigers he wants a release from his contract at the end of 2013 to play rugby union. Former Wallaby Greg Martin blasted the playmaker, calling him a ‘spoilt brat’ and ‘too fat’ on radio.

    Reports have been floating around for a number of weeks now that Marshall was frustrated with the lack of movement from the Tigers towards extending his contract until 2017, as allowed by a clause in his contract once the salary cap was increased.

    His current deal is due to expire in 2015.

    On Tuesday morning firm reports emerged that Marshall had indicated to the club he would be requesting a formal release, although that hasn’t been handed in at the time of writing.

    It appears the best options for Marshall are the Auckland Blues, Waratahs and possibly a stint in Japan to earn some extra dough over the Southern Hemisphere off-season.

    That news and the publicity afforded Marshall’s public quest to move into rugby somewhere apparently ticked off Martin.

    He went on Triple M’s The Grill Team and unleashed what he really thinks about Marshall’s league career and prospects of success in rugby.

    Martin ranted for almost two minutes deriding the ability for Marshall to switch codes and be successful at this stage of his career.

    He said Marshall was, “fabulous in 2004” but that was the “last time he did any bloody thing” and went on to describe him as “chubby around the girth”.

    In what is perhaps an over-exaggeration he said Marshall “makes Quade Cooper look like Trevor Gillmeister in defence”.

    Gillmeister’s nickname during his rugby league career – spanning a decade and including 22 State of Origin appearances – was ‘The Axe’. It was such an apt nickname for his play it stuck even after his career, when writing for the Sunday Mail.

    Cooper has improved his defence in recent times and actually threw his body into a couple of tackles against the Waratahs, but Martin may have overstepped the mark there.

    For what it’s worth there’s probably a strong chance Marshall’s recent inability to set the league on fire would have something to do with the failures of the club as a whole recently as well as the coaching change and player turnover.

    It wasn’t much longer than 2011 and some of the early rounds of last year that people still considered Marshall one of the more exciting players in the NRL and had the ability to get crowds to a game.

    Marshall is 28 and has been through some very taxing injuries to his shoulders over the years so would probably have an older body in terms of miles and longevity than that.

    As far as his rugby chances go Marshall would certainly be one of the best players in the Japanese competition if he decided to dabble and make some quick money there or set up his base in a new country.

    His ability to shine in Super Rugby might be a little more limited but if you are willing to factor in the club turmoil at the Tigers into his play over the last while then it would be fair to say he would still have some very strong attacking skills to offer a suitor.

    Sir John Kirwin has met with Marshall’s camp as far back as late June to Test the waters for a return to Marshall’s home country. If Marshall does indeed want a chance to play for the All Blacks then that would seem the most likely place for him to land.

    The Blues haven’t ever really nailed down their long-term fly-half for a number of seasons now and Marshall would probably get a chance to compete for that position. He’d be in a fight with Chris Noakes and Baden Kerr who split time there this year.

    Breaking into fullback would seem to be very difficult as Charles Piutau has shown flashes of All Black potential there this year.

    On the other hand it appears the Waratahs are willing to look at him as a fullback if anything as they have a good young playmaker in Bernard Foley.

    As it stands he’d need to unseat Israel Folau from fullback. If Folau doesn’t re-sign then Marshall would probably be a desirable replacement to compete with the likes of Cam Crawford and Ben Volavola who have shown potential there.

    Wherever he lands it would be surprising if Marshall doesn’t have another couple of good football years in him. But allowing time for adjustment to a new code and adding in his regularly injured body taking a pounding in league from a young age, it might not be realistic to expect more than just a couple.

    Here is a transcription of Greg Martin’s rant for those who can’t listen to the live feed.

    “What a spoilt brat. I tell you what, if he can still be a brat at 28 years of age, he’s been at the Tigers for, 12 years. Came across from New Zealand, went to Keebra Park down the coast – Kibra Park or Miami? One of those two high schools. They parked him there, the Tigers grabbed him at 16, he’s been there ever since.

    Fabulous in 2004. Oh, wait on that’s 10 years ago, last time he did any bloody thing apart from play well for New Zealand.

    This bloke, he’s starting to get a little bit chubby around the girth. Have you noticed him, he’s been on holidays in Bali!

    He’s now saying, ‘Listen, you guys promised me you’d sign me until 2017.’ This is the petulance of this bloke.

    That’s right, that’s a big contract for a body contact sport when I haven’t seen him make a break this year, and he, doesn’t defend. He defends worse, Quade Cooper’s a – he makes Quade Cooper look like Trevor Gillmeister in defence.

    Mate, I tell you what, he’s saying, ‘Oh, no, well if you guys don’t want me’, no, they’re saying, ‘yeah, we want you but we only want you til 2015.’

    Mmm 2013, 14, 15 – that’s a lot of money. They’re going to give, they said we’ll give you 1.5 million. We’ll give you 700 thousand next year and we’ll give you 800 thousand in 2015, sorry about the 2017 but we’ve got a body contact sport to run here mate.

    So he’s going, ‘oh well bugger you blokes, I’m going to go and play rugby.’

    Benji! We don’t want you! Despite the fact you say here, ‘growing up it was a dream of mine to play for the All Blacks’, it was a dream of a lot of people to play for the All Blacks but you’ve gotta be good enough mate. You’re bloody old, you’re no good and you’re too fat.”

    Elisha Pearce
    Elisha Pearce

    Long-time Roarer Elisha Pearce joined us as a rugby union expert in 2015. He also works for Fairfax Media and has confused more Roarers with his name than anyone in the history of the site.

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    The Crowd Says (180)

    • July 17th 2013 @ 1:19am
      Ben.S said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:19am | ! Report

      This Martin character… Why do people employ him?

      • July 17th 2013 @ 10:22am
        apelu said | July 17th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Exactky; he is ugly and shallow.

        • July 17th 2013 @ 2:57pm
          Johnson said | July 17th 2013 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

          People where slagging off Israel Folau when he swapped codes. People thought deans was nuts for giving him a shot and look at things know. Maybe Benji will cut it?

      • July 17th 2013 @ 4:38pm
        Rob G said | July 17th 2013 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

        Apart from helping to lose a lions series with campo, has Martin ever done anything else???

        • July 19th 2013 @ 6:56am
          Henry said | July 19th 2013 @ 6:56am | ! Report

          This Marto is an embarrassment and shocking commentator whose contract with FOX should be terminated.His only contribution is to resort to shock journalism
          He was an average fullback and is a boring , biased commentator

    • Roar Guru

      July 17th 2013 @ 1:53am
      gatesy said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:53am | ! Report

      So, tell us what you really think,, Marto!!

      • July 17th 2013 @ 9:13am
        Chui said | July 17th 2013 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Or maybe tell us whether you really think.

        A shame players can be fined for innocuous comments, but Martins can say whatever rubbish he likes with impunity.

        He’s a caricature now.

        • July 17th 2013 @ 10:10am
          Rob G said | July 17th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          This highlights the ridiculousness of Greg Martin. His days in the media should be over. He is a complete joke. I agree that Marshall is passed his prime, but he is potentially rugby leagues biggest draw card (behind Sonny bill now actually). If he was to switch to union there would be great interest with fans. I for one hope he is snared by the Tahs or rebels. The rebels could definitely do with a high profile player like him. As for marto, you are a lunatic.

    • July 17th 2013 @ 1:56am
      Eman said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:56am | ! Report

      It all sounded pretty truthful to me.

      • July 17th 2013 @ 8:53am
        Elisha Pearce said | July 17th 2013 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Makes Quade Cooper look like Trevor Gillmeister?

      • July 17th 2013 @ 4:42pm
        nev said | July 17th 2013 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

        He won a grand final in 2005, helped New Zealand win the world cup in 2008 and also helped the Tigers close enough to one game away from the Grand Final for a couple of years in a rowl. But lets not let fact get in the way of fiction when it comes to petty jeaousy and boring hatred!

        Not his biggest fan but anybody who believes he can’t play has no idea, and also anybody who agree’s with Greg Martin has gone full retard, and you never go full retard!

        • July 17th 2013 @ 7:40pm
          Ian said | July 17th 2013 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

          LOL, you never go full retard.

        • July 18th 2013 @ 11:16am
          BetterRedThanDead said | July 18th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          Nev, 2005 was 8 years ago and the WC was 5 – both are ancient history. Benji is on the nose with his coach and club and he is simply looking for a way to extend his earning years (cant blame a guy for doing that!). Marto may be a lunatic, but so are the Tahs management for considering another old, disenfranchised out of form league player to throw money at.

          • July 18th 2013 @ 12:21pm
            Tane Mahuta said | July 18th 2013 @ 12:21pm | ! Report


            Im sure you forgot to mention the Blues, Japanese rugby teams and the Rebels are also interested by mistake Red, not to mention those we dont know about and the Tigers wanting him for another 2 years.
            Still, what does Sir Graham Henry know?
            Marto is now a shock jock like Jones. Sometimes it will be genuine opinion and other times they are just doing their job. Its hard to know which is which and so I take everything they say as agenda driven trolling.
            The fact that there is media hype and he has great skills tells me that he is worth a 1 year deal. If he flops I wont need theropy to get over it.

    • July 17th 2013 @ 2:08am
      niwdeyaj said | July 17th 2013 @ 2:08am | ! Report

      I think its harsh… Marshall has been loyal to his club for over a decade. Quite rare in this day and age for someone to place that kind of value on a jersey – a few rugby folk could learn a thing or two from that.

      I have no doubt a player of Benji’s calibre would add value to Australian rugby, my only concern is that we may (and most likely will end up) eroding that value by overpaying.

    • July 17th 2013 @ 2:13am
      maxxlord said | July 17th 2013 @ 2:13am | ! Report

      I like Marto, but what concern is this of his?

      • July 17th 2013 @ 9:57am
        HM said | July 17th 2013 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Uh, he’s follower and fan of rugby and doesn’t want to see an Australian S15 spend money and a roster spot on an overhyped aging leaguie when that spot/money could be used to grow the depth of players available to the wallabies over the next decade.

        • July 17th 2013 @ 11:02am
          allblackfan said | July 17th 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          you mean like Israel Folau or Mike Harris ?? Oh wait …!!

          • July 17th 2013 @ 11:50am
            HM said | July 17th 2013 @ 11:50am | ! Report

            Both Folau and Harris were 23 years old when they were recruited.

            Marhsall is 28 and an old 28 at that.

            • July 23rd 2013 @ 10:54am
              Campbell Watts said | July 23rd 2013 @ 10:54am | ! Report

              Is that you Marto??

        • July 17th 2013 @ 1:21pm
          jameswm said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

          It just doesn’t work to say “the money can be better used on grass roots rugby”. The different areas have their own cost allocations. If Benjy does not come across, that money is used on other salaries.

          You’d be better off saying the money would be better spent importing a massive tight head prop from SA, Argentina or France.

      • July 17th 2013 @ 1:37pm
        Daz said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

        Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves here. Half the value of Marshall is so rugby can stroke its own self-esteem and feel better about itself. Especially in a market like Sydney where it must feel like the poor fifth cousin. Half the value of Marshall is the fodder he provides for the PR war.

        When is rugby going to learn? Did the Lions tour not teach us anything? As much as I love running rugby what we need are some hard, tough forwards. I am sick of seeing rugby pay big bikkies for league backs. We have enough talent of our own playing behind weak packs and Invariably these switch stars don’t stay and when they base their decisions purely on the $ there is no loyalty. What player goes to Japan because they love playing there? Culturally it just hasn’t been a good fit.

        What we need to do is to invest some money in a school for our young front row forwards. For the same price as Benji we could pick up half a dozen forwards, hardened by league, probably poached from rugby in the first place and bring them back into the fold. Guys like Elsom spring to mind. If we are going to pay the big bikkies someone like a Thorn would be higher on my radar than a Marshall.

        • July 17th 2013 @ 2:41pm
          Daz said | July 17th 2013 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

          I meant to add taught some basics by league. Like how to tackle. Like how to draw your man. Like how to catch and pass. Like humility. Like if you get above yourself be prepared to get a smack around the chops by a senior player.

    • July 17th 2013 @ 2:23am
      K.C.R. said | July 17th 2013 @ 2:23am | ! Report

      I have a lot of respect for Marto as a former Wallaby and for his charity events. In recent times however, he seems to speak more as a ‘shock jock’ than a rugby expert. Which is a shame because I am interested in hearing the opinions of former internationals on the game.

      • July 17th 2013 @ 7:05am
        nickoldschool said | July 17th 2013 @ 7:05am | ! Report


      • Columnist

        July 17th 2013 @ 7:34am
        Elisha Pearce said | July 17th 2013 @ 7:34am | ! Report

        He seems to be really stepping up his shock jock cred in the last little while.
        This rant might be his best yet, unless you think the trojan horse bite was better.

        • July 17th 2013 @ 12:03pm
          Zero Gain said | July 17th 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          Elisha, why is it a ‘rant’ rather than commentary on what is happening? You are putting your spin on his comments so who is being the more upfront and honest here’? I agree with the substance of his comments that Marshall should not be pursued by union. Its a valid opinion so why won’t you treat it as such? Marto has always spoken from the hip with honesty and he does not find the need to ‘spin’ his opinions. I find that refreshing and it gives union a voice that is different from the normal boring, predictable commentary we get dished up in the mainstream sports media.

          • July 17th 2013 @ 1:54pm
            Elisha Pearce said | July 17th 2013 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

            Did you listen to it? It was certainly delivered like a rant. It was basically yelled, included calling the guy fairly derogatory terms and wasn’t measured or accurate in the way commentary or even good criticism is. It wasn’t a conversation either beacuse he either didn’t let anyone else speak.

            If it wasn’t a rant, at very least it was a shoot-from-the-hip, angry editorial.

            But you’re right, on paper it looks much better. I’m sorry if using the word rant wasn’t fair by you I just thought this qualified as one.

            At the end another host actually tells him to have a bex and a lie down! haha

            • July 17th 2013 @ 3:56pm
              Zero Gain said | July 17th 2013 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

              No, I didn’t hear it as I don’t really tune in to commercial radio. But I can imagine Marto’s style of delivery. Its a bit over the top but it is designed to be entertaining and to get attention. He has done that, but for others to be calling him a ‘shock jock’ is just silly. I want to hear his opinion but I can still make up my own mind. I don’t like these attempts to silence him.

              • July 17th 2013 @ 4:13pm
                Elisha Pearce said | July 17th 2013 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

                I’m not in a position to silence the bloke don’t worry about that. He has and always will have more clout than I.

                Have a look at the link in the article. That’s where you can hear it.

              • Columnist

                July 17th 2013 @ 4:19pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | July 17th 2013 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

                It’s fairly audacious of you to accuse Elisha of putting ‘spin’ on it without even listening to the rant.

                You then say Marto’s style of delivery is ‘over-the-top’ and designed to get ‘attention’, but then state that calling him a shockjock is silly. Confused much? Don’t they sound like the exact qualities of a shockjock.

              • July 17th 2013 @ 4:46pm
                Kramer said | July 17th 2013 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

                Ryan O’Connell- Welcome to the world of having an opinion without researching the subject, all for the sake of having an opinion!

                Gosh i feel good right now! sorry, what are we talking about again……………………..

              • July 19th 2013 @ 8:18am
                soapit said | July 19th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

                if you defend martins right to not be silenced you should also defend our right to respond to his ridiculous and opinions and “analysis” accordingly.

                the guys a joke. gets paid to talk about this stuff and then doesnt even get close to getting it right (marshalls form has really only dipped through last year and this year while martins says he’s been poor since 2004 – any casual follower would remember the 2005 GF and 2008 WC final)

      • Columnist

        July 17th 2013 @ 8:39am
        Ryan O'Connell said | July 17th 2013 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        Totallly agree KCR. I actually like Martin, but there is growing evidence to suggest he’s a shockjock. I also like how he says “Rugby doesn’t want Benji” like he’s the annointed voice of the sport. The irony is that many rugby people I’ve spoken to are excited to see how Benji will go, rather than claim they don’t want him.

        I also think, in an age when body image is a massive issue for our kids, to have a trim, athletic sportsman labelled ‘fat’ is a touch dangerous. If Marto thinks Benji is fat, I’d hate to see what he says about George Rose!

        • July 17th 2013 @ 10:15am
          Chivas said | July 17th 2013 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          100% Ryan. Two things stood out for me. One Martin speaking on behalf of rugby union in all countries and on whether a joint competition needs him. I”m not sure who or what he’s trying to attract, not fans or followers.

          Second everything he said was rubbish. Not played a good game since 2004, can’t tackle in a channel where the big guys run down… love to see Quade there, he doesn’t do it in rugby where he has the protection of forwards. Fat,, Stupid throw away comment. Spoilt brat… how many times has Marshall been in the media for behavioural issues. Loyalty. Benji has stuck with Tigers for 12 years and been staunchly proud of every team he has played for. Wonder if Martin has ever been to the Tigers club rooms or he just opens his mouth and spews forth whatever he can think of…. Which apparently isn’t a lot.

          I would say Martin makes Kearns look like a rocket scientist.

          • Columnist

            July 17th 2013 @ 10:39am
            Ryan O'Connell said | July 17th 2013 @ 10:39am | ! Report

            It’s a worrying trend in journalism and sports writing these days. Facts play second fiddle to how much controversy you can create. Martin should be held accountable for what he said, because 99% of it was just utter rubbish. And not even hyperbole rubbish, but just completely wrong.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2013 @ 7:10pm
              B-Rock said | July 17th 2013 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

              Correct – but an upside of this shift in the media is increased opportunity for non-mainstream websites and blogs like this where most of the articles (Lordy being the occasional exception) are measured, researched and thoughtful.

              Marto and Alan Jones are a dying breed as the media becomes democratised.

              • July 18th 2013 @ 10:00am
                Chivas said | July 18th 2013 @ 10:00am | ! Report

                I think that is wishful thinking… Add the entire 2GB radio station including Ray Hadley to that and Kyle Sandilands…. Obnoxious commentary is very strong and well rewarded here. They get more exposure than ever.

              • July 19th 2013 @ 2:01pm
                Pot Stirrer said | July 19th 2013 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

                Mate if you think Alan Jones is credible yoor crazy, That sation s nothinhg more than a Liberal Party hired gun.

        • Columnist

          July 17th 2013 @ 10:43am
          Brett McKay said | July 17th 2013 @ 10:43am | ! Report

          Or Benn Robinson, for that matter. Or Kurtley Beale earlier this year…

          • Columnist

            July 17th 2013 @ 10:51am
            Ryan O'Connell said | July 17th 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

            It’s out of line, inaccurate, irresponsible and dangerous. And this man is paid for his views? Disgraceful.

        • July 17th 2013 @ 8:33pm
          GWS said | July 17th 2013 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

          George rose is fat. So is Ben hold my beer Robinson.

      • July 17th 2013 @ 9:17am
        Stin said | July 17th 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

        He WAS coached by Alan Jones….

        • July 17th 2013 @ 11:21am
          Cantab said | July 17th 2013 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          Haha..explains a lot, I find it hard to believe that nutter was a wallaby coach.

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2013 @ 11:33am
            Nick Turnbull said | July 17th 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

            I thought you might find it harder to believe he was the last Wallaby coach to beat the All Blacks in a 3 test series on home soil that including our last win at Eden Park. Jones tenure ended in 1987 for memory and Greg Martin came into the team in 1989 when Bob Dwyer was coach.

            • July 17th 2013 @ 2:59pm
              gekko said | July 17th 2013 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

              + grand slam 1984

              • July 17th 2013 @ 3:15pm
                Roger said | July 17th 2013 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

                Had very good cattle tough, didn’t see him run with the ball once

          • July 17th 2013 @ 7:50pm
            Lorry said | July 17th 2013 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

            Well said
            Jones is a shocker and should be off the air.
            Martin is ridiculous.
            I do like kearns tho…

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