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Preliminary Final - Rabbitohs vs Sea Eagles: Friday 24th September 7:50pm @Suncorp Stadium


Cmon all we have to lift we must lets help the boys out!

We mightn’t get this kinda opportunity for a while again after tonight. Prelims are really hard to make and where you’re in a premiership window like we are you have to make the most of it.

I think the chatter was bigger in the lead up to the Penrith game compared to this week.


You know what I say UNLEASH HELL!

I am sensing Tom and Arrow are in for massive ones again.

If we win the the party will begin late into the night AND WE WONT STOP!


Cmon all we have to lift we must lets help the boys out!

We mightn’t get this kinda opportunity for a while again after tonight. Prelims are really hard to make and where you’re in a premiership window like we are you have to make the most of it.

I think the chatter was bigger in the lead up to the Penrith game compared to this week.
I've been quiet because I don't wanna jinx them


Staff member
Benji saved my son’s life: Why the boy with the crown signature will finish as king

In his prime, Benji Marshall was a rugby league rockstar. But there is a side to the veteran playmaker only few had the privilege of seeing.

By Michael Chammas
SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

Benji Marshall with then five-year-old Lleyton Giles during the 2010 season.CREDIT:SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

The curtain on one of rugby league’s most glittering careers may be hours away from closing. Benji Marshall has been to rugby league what very few have been before.

The rockstar. The magician. And to 16-year-old Lleyton Giles, who 11 years ago was given six months to live, the life saver.

“It was grim as it could be,” Lleyton’s father Wes said about his terminally ill son’s battle with short-gut syndrome.

“He was finished. He was yellow as. His liver was shot. He was on a machine to give him the nutrition he needs to survive every day. He had six months to live. We even had a party for him that was a farewell. There wasn’t any light at the end of the tunnel.”

The year was 2010. The Tigers, touched by then five-year-old Lleyton’s story, welcomed him into the team like he was one of their own. He became the unofficial mascot, leading the team out on the field and embraced in the club’s inner sanctum.

It was at a time when “Benjimania”, as Robbie Farah calls it, was at its peak. “Everyone wanted a piece of Benji,” Farah said.

“It was relentless. Media, sponsors, all the fans. I used to sit back and think ‘I don’t know how he does it’.”

Yet still, Marshall found time for Giles. He would spend hours at Westmead Children’s Hospital by his bed side over many years.

“One time, I said ‘mate won’t you be going to New Zealand for the Test shortly?’,” Wes recalled.

Lleyton Giles with Benji Marshall by his side in hospital many years after the pair first met back in 2010.

“He said ‘yeah I leave this afternoon’. These are the stories people don’t get to hear. He’s sitting here a few hours before he has to get to the airport to play against Australia. A lot of players do things for publicity, or because they have to. That bloke, even still now with the odd phone call or text, genuinely cared about my son.

“Lleyton’s whole outlook on life changed. All he kept talking about was Benji Marshall and the Tigers. It was like he was just fighting to live for that. I still believe that part of his life, where it didn’t look like he was going to survive, Benji Marshall saved his life.”

In a life that began prematurely alongside twin brother Connor just 28 weeks into their mother’s pregnancy, Lleyton has endured almost 40 surgical procedures from the time he underwent open-heart surgery at just 18 days old.

It’s been a life with plenty of moments he’d rather forget. But his time with Marshall is still etched firmly in his memory.

“The day Benji picked me up and put me on his shoulders and walked around the field, I felt like the king of the world,” Giles said.

The scenes of Marshall carrying Giles around Campbelltown Sports Stadium still resonates with veteran caller Ray Hadley, who lauded the 36-year-old for making a career out of unselfish gestures.

“It was one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen in rugby league,” Hadley told the Herald.

“He’s obviously been an outstanding rugby league player, but I think his deeds away from playing have surpassed his career.

“He’s a really genuinely decent bloke. I’ve had a lot to do with him over the years, mainly asking for favours for people who are disadvantaged. He’s never done anything but made himself available.”

When Marshall burst on to the scene in 2003, he was taught a quick lesson in humility.

“When Benji walked into the club, his first autograph was a signature finished off with a crown on top,” former Tigers coach Tim Sheens told the Herald in his first interview about Marshall in almost a decade.
“The senior blokes took one look at that and gave him a you-know-what.”

It was an autograph he quickly modified. But it wouldn’t be long before the Marshall autograph would once again impact on his teammates.

“Wherever we went he made us late,” ex-Tigers football manager Alan Mair said.

“He wanted to sign everyone’s autographs and take photos.”

Farah, who himself was the centre of attention at the time, couldn’t believe how generous Marshall always was with his time given his status in the game.

“He was bigger than rugby league. He was a rockstar,” Farah told the Herald.

“Sometimes you’re not in the mood to be around fans or put on a smile if you’re having a rough day. Benji would still put on a smile because he knew how important it was to that young kid to take a photo.

”I remember this fan day when supporters were told the boys would be signing autographs for an hour. The hour was up and there was still a 70-metre line for Benji. Benji wouldn’t leave until he signed an autograph or took a photo with everyone who wanted to even when the club would beg him to get up and leave. They’re the things I remember.“

His impact on the sport reverberated around the nation and across New Zealand, putting rugby league on the map in a country that cared very little for anything but the 15-man code.

“I was that kid calling out ‘Benji Marshall’, stepping in the park,” Kiwi halfback Shaun Johnson said.

“I’d seen people that looked like Benji and moved like Benji at the local touch fields in New Zealand, but he was doing it on this stage that we never thought was even possible. He was like a superhero.

“All the kids my age had the big step, the flashy hair, the different coloured boots. He changed the way you can play the game of rugby league with that flash and flair. He gave us all hope.”

Scott Prince was the best player on the field in the 2005 grand final. All that most remember from that night is the iconic Marshall flick pass to put Pat Richards over.

Leichhardt Oval also became synonymous with Marshall.

“There was no greater entertainment than a Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt with Benji playing,” former Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said.

“All the buzz around Mary Street in the build up to the game, then in the ground, was all about what Benji might do today. He rarely disappointed.”

The Tigers had become everyone’s second favourite team. The attack-at-all-costs mentality made them a ratings hit, led by the exuberance of the boy in the No.6 jersey.

“Benji was spectacular,” former Channel Nine boss David Gyngell told the Herald.

“There are superstar players, there are big name players then there are those who are both. Benji Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams fit that category.

“Benji was a real needle mover in the impact of making a casual fan a much deeper fan. That’s exactly what sports need.”

Marshall has always been motivated to prove people wrong. This year it’s been aimed at the Tigers and showing them that there was still some fight left in the old dog with what he has been able to produce for South Sydney in 2021.

“I think that lit a flame in him,” Chris Lawrence says of the way he exited the club last year. “He is fuelled by a desire to prove people wrong.”

Sheens often used that determination to ignite Marshall into action.

“Go out there and tell Benji that if he doesn’t pull his finger out of his a--- I’m going to take him off,” Mair remembers Sheens yelling down the line in a game over a decade ago.

“The next minute from halfway he has done a little goose step, dummied inside and threw a no-look pass for one of the wingers to score. He comes back past me and says ‘is that good enough for him?’.”

Those around him knew what he’d become.

“He was the Wests Tigers,” Lawrence says.

But Marshall never believed he was above those around him. A lot has been made of how generous Marshall has been with his time.

He’s been equally generous with his money – with teammates of the opinion he has sacrificed more than $200,000 just to keep his friends together.

“At the end of 2019, the club told me they had no wiggle room in the salary cap to keep me," Lawrence recalls.

"All of a sudden they came back and said ‘we can make it work’. I asked ‘how does that just magically happen?

“They hinted that someone may have helped out. There was only one guy I knew would do that. That’s Benji Marshall for you."


Staff member
Loyalty and friendship
During his time as CEO of the Wests Tigers, Humphreys developed a close bond with the man hew now refers to as his all-time favourite player.

“I learned that family, friendship and loyalty will always be the centre of Benji’s world,” Humphreys said.

It’s why his life unravelled soon after, when he felt betrayed by a club that he had sacrificed so much for. It's also why things ended so sourly with Michael Maguire after he was dropped and eventually shown the door last year.

At the core of frustrations that led to Marshall’s exit from Tiger town in 2013 was a perceived act of dishonour that he couldn’t comprehend.

“Our love for the club was so strong,” Farah said. “We were a family. When it falls apart having sacrificed as much as Benji did, then it hurts you. Benji had a verbal agreement for a long-term contract. The new CEO comes in and says the deal was off the table.

"To a guy like Benji, who had done so much for the club because all he ever wanted was to be a one-club player, it destroyed him. He felt like he’d been betrayed."

The one-time poster boy soon became a media punching bag. A number of minor off-field incidents contributed to his impeccable reputation, which led to him seeking refuge with Super Rugby franchise the Auckland Blues in 2013.

“I felt all his angst when he went to rugby,” long-time friend and Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said.

“He didn’t go to rugby because he wanted to play rugby. He just didn’t know how to get out of rugby league. That’s what they do to our great players. They find a way to persecute them. I could see all the blatant headlines and all the stuff that was going on at the time, I knew why he left.

“He needed a way out. He didn’t want to give up playing football, but he needed out of all the negativity. They build them up, make them into superstars then tear them all down. I’ve seen it with so many players.”

Marshall’s bitterness with the club was evident when he posed for a photograph in an Auckland Blues jersey, the team he was joining the following year, while still contracted with the Tigers in 2012.

“I was captain at the time and I thought he was completely wrong,” Farah said.

“I told him that. He was still contracted to the Tigers, for him to put on another jersey was pretty poor form and something he still regrets to this day. I don’t know if he didn’t think at the time he was doing anything wrong, or whether it was a f--- you to the Tigers. But when the emotion wore off, he saw it for what it was and realised it was the wrong move.”

The fact he was pushed out of the Tigers was something Bennett never understood.

“If I was coaching the Wests Tigers, there’s no way I would have ever let Benji leave,” Bennett said.

“They go around blaming everyone for the situation they are in. The situation they are in is because of decisions like that. Benji and Robbie should have never left.”

Benji 2.0
When he returned from a failed stint in rugby union, Marshall found a home at the St George Illawarra Dragons.

He reinvented himself as a footballer, playing with maturity and control that was often lacking at the Tigers.

Three seasons in, St George Illawarra became concerned with his body.

“He had a lot of hamstring problems in ’16,” former Dragons coach Paul McGregor recalled.

“He was sitting in a car for three to four hours a day travelling back and forth from Sydney to Wollongong. It took its toll.”

Even Farah thought it was the end, taking his place in the stands at Kogarah for the Dragons’ final game of the 2016 season.

“I went because I thought it would be his last ever game,” Farah said. “I thought that was it. It was 2016, now we’re in 2021 and he’s still going.”

Very few realise how close Marshall's career came to ending years earlier. A series of shoulder injuries threatened to cut short Marshall’s career as it was beginning to take off.

“There were times there he was contemplating retirement based on medical advice at the time,” Farah said. “He had four or five shoulder operations by the age of 22 or 23.”

After the fifth surgery, the advice was clear.

“The specialist at the time told Benji: ‘if you visit me again, you are done. Your career is over’,” Sheens recalled.

Bennett’s bond with Marshall stems back to their three months together during the 2008 World Cup, where Bennett mentored the Kiwis to a famous victory.

It’s why he signed him at the Broncos when many thought his career would end at the Dragons. But even with Marshall by his side, it didn’t sit right with the seven-time premiership-winning coach.

“I told him he will always be a Wests Tiger, just go back and finish your career there,” Bennett said.

“It’s where you belong. I want you retire back at the Wests Tigers. That’s where he should be finishing, to be honest.”

Instead his time at the Tigers came to an end on a sombre note, begrudgingly doing a lap of honour with the retiring Lawrence at Bankwest Stadium last year after being told he wasn’t wanted by the club.

"I felt really sad for him that night,” Lawrence said. “I felt guilty. I wanted to celebrate with him, but deep down you knew it wasn’t the way he deserved to go out at the Tigers.”

While Marshall was adamant he wouldn’t be pushed into retirement, Farah wanted his friend to call it a day.

“I was concerned him going to another club and what it would do for his legacy,” Farah said.

“If anything I was wrong and he was right. He’s added so much to what Souths are doing on and off the field.”

Now Marshall is just 80 minutes away from another grand final, 16 years after he sent a sea of black and gold into raptures at Stadium Australia.

"He did things on the field that no one else could do,” Hadley says.

“He is in the category with the Andrew Johnses and the Wally Lewises. He was a person that didn’t just get the crowd on their feet, he got commentators on their feet. He was among the top half dozen players I ever broadcast.”

Whether it ends on Friday night, next week or next year, Marshall has come a long way from the kid who was told by former teammate Mark O'Neill 'you're not the king' after watching the teenager scribble a crown above his autograph.

"He might not have been then," O'Neill says. "But he has certainly become the king now."


HT Souths 22-0 looking good.









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