Marshall adamant Tigers clear of drugs scandal
Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall insists he wouldn't stand for illegal drug or supplement use at his club, adamant the Tigers aren't embroiled in the scandal that has rocked Australian sport.
The Tigers are the latest club to pledge their innocence in the Australian Crime Commission's investigations into the use of illicit supplements and organised crime in sport.
Marshall, who said he had never been offered any performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career, guaranteed the Tigers were not in any trouble.
''I can only speak for myself, I can't really speak for other people, I know at Wests Tigers we've never been involved in any of that sort of stuff and we'll never be,'' he said.
''As far as I'm concerned I'd never let that happen anyway.
''I'm a big believer since I've grown up that drugs is a big no and performance-enhancing is a bigger no. We don't want that in our game.''
While most clubs and players want the offenders to be named and shamed before the start of the season, Marshall doesn't see it as a distraction.
''It doesn't really both me, the truth's the truth, it's going to come out eventually, so whether they come out or someone else brings it out, it doesn't bother me,'' Marshall said. ''In my eyes, everyone's innocent at the moment because nothing's been said. Until proven guilty, innocent.''
Marshall has vowed to take on the line a lot more this season in a bid to recapture his old form.
While it was Marshall who put his hand up to play at No 7 last year to fill a void, he is relishing the move back to the jersey he made famous for the most part of the last decade.
Former Tigers coach Tim Sheens backed Marshall's transition from the team's creator to the organiser last year, but the move didn't pay off with the Tigers missing the semi-finals.
But with new coach Mick Potter set to take a punt on Jacob Miller at halfback, Marshall is excited about his move back to five-eighth.
The Kiwi captain said he will have a different role to play at the Tigers this year. ''I want to run the ball a bit more - last year my running game was down a bit, I was probably trying to ball play a bit too much,'' Marshall said.
''I set up a few tries but I want to score a few this year. [Mick] just wants me to play my game, which is pretty much running the ball and getting me away from being the guy who guides the team around the field and just concentrate on being wider and giving me a bit more space.''
The Tigers were unable to settle on a halves combination last year, with Chris Lawrence, Blake Ayshford, Curtis Sironen, Tim Moltzen, Liam Fulton, Tom Humble and Miller all used in the halves alongside Marshall.
The 27-year-old, who made the move to halfback in round nine last year, admitted he wasn't comfortable playing in the unfamiliar role.
''It's something that's probably not as suited to my game,'' he said.
''If I had to say there was a certain style that suited me, it's playing wider with a bit more space and a bit more room to move.
''Last year we didn't really have another choice at halfback, someone had to put their hand up and that was me. I was still getting the boys over the line, I just couldn't get over the line myself as much.''
The break on the international calendar last season provided most clubs with their most consistent pre-season in recent years.
While it meant Marshall had to return to training in November for the first time in five years, he believes it will benefit his game.
''It's been the first pre-season I've had in five years because there's no tour between [the seasons],'' Marshall said. ''To get that pre-season behind me under a new coach, where we've been training so hard, I'm just looking forward to playing. Mick Potter's brought back that old school mentality of 'run until you collapse' or 'run until you vomit' - that's been the case for us.
At this time last year the Tigers were pre-season premiership favourites. There has been a huge drop in expectation given their disappointing campaign, but Marshall is enjoying being out of the spotlight.
''It's great - you don't have that pressure of expectation and all the media talking about it,'' he said. ''We can just go about our business and worry about playing footy.''
Sydney Morning Herald