Sleight of hand … Benji Marshall keeps his options open against the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval earlier this year.BENJI MARSHALL has told incoming Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter that he wants to reclaim his No.6 jersey next season.
Marshall met Potter – who will be the Kiwi international’s second club coach, having replaced Tim Sheens – on Monday, and the Tigers playmaker told Fairfax that his new boss asked him during that meeting where he wanted to play next season.
”I told him I’d like to be back at five-eighth,” Marshall said. ”That’s where I want to play. He asked me that, where I wanted to play, what I thought was my best position, and I told him. I was just honest with him. I want to play five-eighth.”
Sheens had tried several times to switch Marshall to halfback and it appeared his latest attempt this year might be long-term. The Kiwis captain had publicly accepted the move and even relished it, but clearly, behind the scenes, Marshall still coveted the No.6 jumper that he had worn through most of his career with the club. His latest comments prove that.
Potter is yet to publicly declare where he wants his key player, but the fact he is willing to ask Marshall suggests that a return to the position is a strong possibility.
The Tigers unearthed Curtis Sironen at five-eighth this year, and bought Sydney Roosters captain Braith Anasta to play in the halves, but both could just as easily be forwards. The question of who might play halfback if it’s not Marshall also seems clearer. Jacob Miller, the Tigers’ premiership-winning Toyota Cup captain, seemed destined to leave the club while Sheens was coach, but now Potter has taken over is set to reject overtures from Hull FC to stay. Marshall rates him as a halfback.
Marshall left his first meeting with Potter impressed, even if he previously did not know what the former Bradford coach looked like until he saw a newspaper picture of him. ”He seems like a hard man,” said Marshall. ”You can tell he’s very disciplined, just the way he was talking. I know how tough the pre-season’s going to be. I think he’ll be good for the place.”
Since Sheens’ sacking, Marshall has been the focus of suggestions that the senior players – notably he and captain Robbie Farah – wield too much power at the Tigers.
Marshall, though, rejected that. ”Most of the people who know me wouldn’t have that perception,” he said. ”Perceptions don’t bother me anyway. I know what I’m about. If I had too much power at the club, Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington wouldn’t have left.”
He said Potter would have no issues with player power. ”He’s the one who lives and dies by what he does,” he said. ”I’m a good listener, a good learner, and whatever he’s got to teach me, I’m looking forward to taking on board.”
Marshall will return to training on Monday after a break following the October Test match, and was excited about starting his first pre-season under Potter. ”It’s a bit of a change for me,” he said. ”I’ve been coached by Tim for so long, and it will feel a bit weird hearing a different voice at training. But I’m looking forward to it. There’s a bit of fresh air around the place.”
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