Benji Marshall has called time on his NRL career, with the 36-year-old hanging up the boots after 346 matches in the top grade.
An emotional Marshall fronted media this afternoon to make the announcement that Sunday’s grand final loss to Penrith was his final game.
“I started off my journey in rugby league as a small boy from Whakatane chasing a dream, and leave this game as a grown man,” Marshall said through tears.
“I’ve learned a lot of life lessons… I feel privileged and honoured for what the game has given me, the life I’ve been able to live.”
Last week, in the lead-up to the grand final, Marshall shocked media when he revealed he hadn’t decided to retire, as many expected him to do this year.
Again immediately after the loss to Penrith he said he didn’t know whether he would or wouldn’t, but came to the conclusion he should hang up the boots on Tuesday morning.
“I just don’t think it gets any better, in terms of timing,” he said.
“The more I thought about it, if I didn’t make this decision now I would 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 there was a lot of good stuff being said about me, and I would’ve hated for that to go on for one season too long.
“I did consider playing on, I did. But the more I thought about it the more it was time for me to move on. My family has put in a lot of sacrifice moving around 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 Marshall a lifeline earlier this year when it appeared the playmaker’s NRL career was finished, having been released by his beloved Wests Tigers.
Marshall’s signing turned out to be one of the best of the year, with the veteran playing 22 matches 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 rugby league’s enduring highlights.
Marshall made his first grade debut for the Wests Tigers in 2003, and played in the club’s 2005 grand final win over North Queensland.
He left Concord and went to play rugby union briefly in Auckland, but returned to the NRL to play for the Dragons, then Broncos, then Tigers again, before his 2021 campaign with South Sydney.
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