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  • Marshall leaving highlight plays in the past to focus on leadership

    2019 - 09.27

    Brisbane Broncos player Benji Marshall (centre) is seen during training in Brisbane, Tuesday, September 5, 2017. The Broncos will meet the Roosters in their first Final game on Friday. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVINGA year in the Queensland sun has helped Benji Marshall discover a vintage passion for the game. But don’t think that means he intends to turn the clock back to his days as the game’s premier entertainer as he pilots Brisbane against the Roosters in Friday’s qualifying final.
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    Marshall has spent half of the season with Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup yet now looms as a key man for the Broncos as they travel to Allianz Stadium. Injury to Darius Boyd has forced Wayne Bennett into a reshuffle, with Marshall to step in at halfback alongside Anthony Milford.

    When he was at his ad-lib best for the Wests Tigers, a club he will rejoin next season, Marshall rarely took a back seat. Now he’s happy to play the reliable foil to Milford’s creative streak as the Broncos seek to overcome a raft of key injuries and put themselves in the grand final race.

    The 32-year-old responded with mock outrage at the suggestion he’d thrown a flick-pass in training at Red Hill on Tuesday, although he was raining some soaring torpedo bombs on the tryline in a sign that Michael Gordon can expect a busy night at the back for the Roosters.

    “I don’t need to be the Benji Marshall of old,” Marshall said when asked if he was ready to find the kind of form that helped the Tigers to the 2005 premiership.

    “I’ve created a new title to the way I’ve been playing lately. It’s not so erratic and not so out-there. I’ve got a job to do for our team, which is to lead the guys around. I suppose I have to be that steadiness on the field and that’s the role I’m going to play.”

    Marshall’s short sting at the Broncos was a gamble for both player and organisation, but both near its conclusion with satisfying results. Marshall credits his move with rejuvenating his love for the game, while Brisbane are fortunate to have a player of his experience as injury strikes.

    “It’s been a positive year. People might think it’s up and down. Coming to Brisbane has been the best thing to happen to me in my career. Just playing with this bunch of players has been a privilege. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year, more than I have in the last 12,” Marshall said.

    “To put myself back on the map a bit and prove I can still play footy, it’s been quite a positive for me. Probably the best thing that’s happened to my career.”

    Brisbane’s best spine would be Boyd at fullback, Ben Hunt and Milford in the halves and Andrew McCullough at hooker. Only Milford finds himself in the same spot for the clash against the Roosters, with Hunt in the scrum, Marshall in seven and Kodi Nikormima at the back.

    That should put the Roosters in the driver’s seat at their home ground, while Mitchell Pearce gets another chance to stand up and be counted in a big game for the Tricolours, who will start as favourites.

    Marshall knows Pearce has been a lightning rod of criticism over the years, particularly for NSW, but said that was simply a byproduct of playing in such a hands-on position.

    “That’s part and parcel of playing in the halves. I’ve been through it myself. When the game is on the line, your position has to touch it more than anyone on the field,” Marshall said.

    “I don’t think he deserves it but you have to take the good with the bad when you play in the halves. Unfortunately for Mitchell, some of those times have been when NSW haven’t won.”

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