The sight of Benji Marshall in full flight on Thursday might have had tongues wagging but Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett says his prized recruit is no closer to making his Broncos NRL debut.
However, North Queensland coach Paul Green is not so sure.
Marshall looked set to play in Friday night’s NRL blockbuster against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium after the ex-Kiwi captain trained strongly with the main group.
He was in line for a utility bench spot with a question mark over Alex Glenn (concussion).
Instead, Bennett said Marshall would return to the field, after off-season achilles issues, with feeder club Redcliffe this weekend in the second-tier Queensland Cup.
Reporters needed some convincing about Marshall’s NRL snub before Bennett interjected: “Guys, Benji’s not playing, okay.
“He just can’t make the squad at the moment; we are going with the same bench as last week.”
Bennett said there was no deadline for Marshall to crack the top 17 now he was fully fit.
Asked what he expected from Marshall, Bennett said: “Nothing, I just want him to go out there and play some football”.
Yet Green was still not certain if Marshall would run out on Friday night or not.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he did,” said Green who started his coaching career in 2005 at Brisbane under Bennett.
“He (Bennett) is very good at that, coming up with something from left field.
“If he does, he does – I am not worried either way if Benji plays.”
On his arrival, former Kiwi international Marshall admitted he had found it hard to get his head around playing Queensland Cup footy.
But Bennett said Marshall had embraced the challenge ahead of him in Brisbane.
“He wanted to play at the Broncos,” he said.
“Benji just wants to be at a new club and get his opportunity.
“He is more than happy to play where he has to play – those things (NRL call-up) will happen.”
Bennett was confident Glenn would pass the relevant tests to take his place on the interchange after a head knock in their season-opening win over Cronulla.
The master coach also gave the thumbs up for re-signed lock Josh McGuire and ex- Cowboys centre Tautau Moga.
McGuire failed to train on Tuesday but impressed on Thursday, still buzzing from signing a new four-year deal.
Bennett played down a health scare that forced Moga off the training paddock on Sunday