Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Born in the Bay of Plenty town of Whakatane New Zealand, Benjamin Quentin Marshall would embark on a journey to be a professional Rugby League player after moving to the Gold Coast to take up a sports scholarship at Keebra Park High School, playing in the Australian Schoolboys side in 2003.
It was in that same year that Marshall would make his NRL debut for the Wests Tigers at just 18-years-old while studying for his HSC examinations.
Just two years later the half would find himself in a prominent role at the Tigers, playing 27 games in the club’s first premiership-winning season where he would become a superstar to many, especially the younger generations, as he utilised his unique playstyle filled with side steps and flick passes to perfection.
He became a human highlight reel as the Tigers went on to win the 2005 NRL Grand Final, with Marshall also making his debut for the New Zealand Kiwis, who in that same year won the Tri-Nations tournament.
The coming years would see Marshall cement himself as one of the best players in the NRL at the time, winning a Rugby League World Cup with New Zealand in 2008 before a short stint in Rugby Union throughout 2014.
Upon his return, the 36-year-old found it hard to readjust to Rugby League, but a move to the Broncos in 2017 saw Marshall reinvent himself under the watchful eye of super coach Wayne Bennett, with the two reuniting four years later at the South Sydney Rabbitohs in what would be the New Zealand international’s final season.
Marshall’s last game would be a return to the Grand Final for the first time in 16 years which would, unfortunately, end in defeat.
“I feel privileged and grateful to have had the career that I have had,” said Marshall when announcing his retirement via the Rabbitohs official website.
“I want to thank the Wests Tigers, the St George Illawarra Dragons, the Brisbane Broncos and, of course, the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the opportunity to play for those great clubs. Special mention goes to the Tigers where I am a Life Member and it’s a club that has always been a big part of my life.”
After nearly five months since Marshall’s retirement, one starts to wonder if his impact on the game has been enough to see him Immortalised in five years when eligible.
Comparing him to the current Immortals, it’s obvious that Marshall’s career hasn’t been filled with as many accolades overall, but maybe it’s time we consider a different reason for an Immortal inclusion.
Marshall inspired an entire generation to support and play the game of Rugby League, with many of the NRL’s brightest young stars today citing the Whakatane native as their role model.
Without Benji Marshall, the NRL would look and be played quite different to how it is today and that is as good a reason as any to see him one day achieve Immortal status.