Benji Marshall still finding his feet with Dragons

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 13:34 03/06/2014
Benji Marshall
Getty Images
TOUGH TIMES: Benji Marshall's second match with St George Illawarra resulted in yet another loss for the struggling Dragons.

Relevant offers

League

Kangaroos end Kiwis' three-game winning streak with comfortable win in Newcastle Sam Burgess warns Rabbitohs of Eels backlash Addin Founa-Blake wants to prove he's a better man than his record The children that inspire Canberra Raiders and Kangaroos star Josh Papalii Anzac test: Five key factors to a Kiwis victory in Newcastle Changes galore: 12th Man announces 'new' Kiwis line-up Prescription drugs the latest pressure-relief valve for young sports stars Parramatta Eels not punished sufficiently for salary cap breach: Geoff Toovey Parramatta Eels allowed to accrue NRL points while directors pursue legal action From watching the Kiwis in prison to making NZ debut for Manu Ma'u

Benji Marshall's underwhelming return to the NRL continued against South Sydney as the former Kiwis and Wests Tigers playmaker battles to make an impact for struggling St George Illawarra.

Billed as a potential saviour for the Dragons following his unsuccessful code switch to the Blues, the 29-year-old is still establishing a rapport with teammates already out of synch, as evidenced by seven losses in their last eight games - including last night's 29-10 loss to the Rabbitohs.

Marshall's ANZ Stadium was undeniable but in a display reminiscent of his subdued comeback against Parramatta on May 17, the 2010 Golden Boot winner's telegraphed sideways running and inaccurate passing attracted ridicule from opposition fans.

High punts from Marshall did instigate both Dragons tries but a knock-on, hospital pass for fullback Adam Quinlan and a ball flung behind Josh Dugan - a failed experiment at centre -  detracted from his kicking game.

After being content to primarily play a supporting to five-eighth Gareth Widdop against the Eels, Marshall last night received the ball 70 times to the Englishman's 36 and he also assumed responsibility for the restarts.

He had two tackle breaks, 11 tackles and a late burst after intercepting a pass while hard on defence.

Marshall briefly rekindled memories of his famous break and reverse pass to try scorer Pat Richards during the 2005 NRL Grand Final, but there was no repeat when his audacious flick found Jason Nightingale because the wing kicked ahead and the ball was deflected into touch.

Signed to a 2 1/2-year deal last month, the resurrection of Marshall's 201-game first grade career was assured of being highly scrutinised, and new Dragons head coach Paul McGregor echoed the sentiments of his predecessor Steve Price when defending the club's marquee acquisition.

"Thing's take time. Benji's going to take time. We've got to be patient. We all know he can play (but) we trying to expect him to play of the Benji or old when he's only been in the game for a couple of minutes.

"Just give him time and patience and we'll see some fruits, for sure," said McGregor after his first game in the top job.

St George Illawarra fans tended to agree when Marshall's recruitment - and performances so far - were debated in a leagueunlimited.com forum.

"It's not Benji's fault, we have the worst coaching staff and the worst structure. We need a new coach," submitted St Georgio.

Ad Feedback

"Yeah he was bad (last night), not our worst though .... having a crack at least," added St Phil.

However, not all were willing to give Marshall time to adapt to his new environment.

"He doesn't need time, he needs a time machine," wrote one detractor.

- Stuff

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who is your pick for international league player of the year?

Shaun Johnson

Jesse Bromwich

Sam Burgess

James Graham

Greg Inglis

Johnathan Thurston

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content