'I'm coming home': Benji Marshall goes back to the Wests Tigers
Redemption rather than romance dominates rugby league stories.
But Benji Marshall's return to Wests Tigers is dripping with the qualities of a Mills and Boone novel.
Marshall and the Tigers confirmed yesterday that the club legend will be returning to Leichhardt in 2018.
"I'm coming home," Benji told The Sun-Herald yesterday. "And it feels good. I never wanted to leave the place, and I've tried several times to get back and now I've got my chance."
Marshall's return to the Tigers will be one of the stories of 2018: a favourite son coming back to help a club that's going through a massive rebuild under new coach Ivan Cleary.
Marshall met with Cleary when the Tigers played the Broncos
earlier this year and very nearly joined the club then.
"We talked about a mid-year switch," Marshall said. "But in the end I felt like I wanted to see this year out with Brisbane because it's been so good for my game and I've still got work to do with Brisbane. I'm their professional 18th man.
"My time here with Brisbane has really turned my game around and it has rejuvenated me."
Marshall doesn't have many regrets in his career but the way he exited the Tigers is one that is
driving his return to the club.
"The way I announced I was going to the [Auckland] Blues seemed right at the time, but now that I look at it,
I wish I had done things differently," Marshall said. "I never wanted to leave the club, but they didn't want me and I probably could've handled things better back then.
"The great thing about returning has been telling my family. Most of them are still Tigers fans and they are really happy with the decision. And I'm really happy because I love the club. I tried a few times to come back since I left, but the opportunity just wasn't there under Jason Taylor or Mick Potter.
"Now it's there I hope I can make
a difference as a senior player and as someone who might be able to mentor the younger players.
"I come back to the club as a different person and player. I now know how to have a good look at myself and realise how to accept responsibility for my actions and how to fix what
I may be doing wrong. In the past it was easy to blame other people instead of owning my flaws or errors."
Marshall knows he will be playing second fiddle to the likes of Luke Brooks and new recruit Josh Reynolds, but he is hoping to fit in somewhere and help educate the team.
Tigers boss Justin Pascoe said: "The whole club is really excited to be welcoming a legend like Benji back.
"Benji has a long history with this club, with the members, the fans and with the stakeholders and bringing back a life member to help to continue to transform this footy club is a great result for everyone.
"Benji will add experience and leadership to our young group of players coming through, not only on the field but also off the field. The communication Ivan Cleary, Kelly Egan and myself have had with Benji is very clear around his role with the Wests Tigers.
"He will be given every opportunity to compete for a starting position and put pressure on those ahead of him and he will also be expected to, and is looking forward to, being a mentor to those young players coming through.
"What excites me the most is that Benji can see and believes in the direction the club is heading and he wants to be part of that. He sees the future of the Wests Tigers is extremely bright."