Benji Marshall has taken his time for his NRL career, with the 36-year-old hanging up after 346 games in the premier league.
An emotional Marshall took to the media this afternoon to make the announcement that Sunday’s grand final defeat to Penrith was his last game.
“I started my journey in rugby league as a little boy from Whakatane chasing a dream, and leaving this game as a grown man,” Marshall said tearfully.
“I’ve learned a lot of life lessons…I feel privileged and honored for what the game has given me, the life I’ve been able to live.”
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Last week, in the lead up to the grand finale, Marshall shocked the media when he revealed he hadn’t decided to retire as many expected he would this year.
Again immediately after Penrith’s loss, he said he didn’t know whether or not he would, but concluded that he should hang up the boots on Tuesday morning.
“I just don’t think it’s getting any better timing wise,” he said.
“The more I thought about it, if I didn’t make this decision now, I’d probably play until I’m 40. I just love the game so much, but this felt like the right time for me.
“I felt like a lot of good things were being said about me, and I would have hated it if that had gone on for a season.
“I considered playing on, I did. But the more I thought about it, the more it was time for me to move on. My family has made a lot of sacrifices by moving for me and doing things for me, And I think it’s time for me to change that and put my family first.”
The Rabbitohs and coach Wayne Bennett threw a lifeline to Marshall earlier this year when it looked like the playmaker’s NRL career had come to an end after he was released by his beloved Wests Tigers.
Marshall’s signing proved to be one of the best of the year, with the veteran playing 22 games for the Bunnies, including the grand final.
But Marshall will forever be known as a Tiger, his famous flick pass to teammate Pat Richards to win the 2005 Grand Final, one of the rugby league’s lasting highlights.
Marshall made his first-class debut for the Wests Tigers in 2003, and played in the club’s 2005 grand final win over North Queensland.
He left Concord and briefly went on to play rugby union in Auckland, but returned to the NRL to play for the Dragons, then Broncos and then Tigers again, for his 2021 campaign with South Sydney.
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