Just weeks after The Sun-Herald revealed favourite son Benji Marshall will be returning to Wests Tigers, the joint-venture outfit will hand his younger brother his NRL debut.
Jeremy Marshall-King will be given an opportunity to make his own name when he comes on in the season-ending clash against the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval. The young playmaker – capable of playing in the halves, at hooker and at fullback – will get an opportunity to showcase his versatility when he comes off the bench on Sunday.
While he may not have the flamboyance of his big brother at the same age, Marshall-King’s debut is a reward for perseverance after biding his time in the National Youth Competition and NSW Cup. The suspensions of Matt McIlwrick and Michael Chee Kam and the expected late scratching of the injured Elijah Taylor have provided an opportunity for the 21-year-old to spend time at dummy half, as well provide halves cover for the returning Luke Brooks.
Marshall-King was born in New Zealand before moving to Australia at the age of 10 in the hope of following in the footsteps of brother Benji. The All Saints Toongabbie Tigers product is off contract at the end of the season, but his elevation to the NRL will give him an opportunity to press for a new deal.
In an interview with Fairfax Media four years ago, Marshall-King said he wanted to create his own identity in the NRL.
“He’s my brother, but you can’t just keep following him, you’ve got to do your own thing,” he said at the time.
“It’s given me a bit of inspiration, the stuff he’s done for the NRL and the club. Me coming through, it would be good to make my own footsteps through the club and not follow his, to do my own stuff.”
Brooks is a definite starter after overcoming a hamstring issue in what will be the final game for skipper Aaron Woods and fullback James Tedesco in Tigers colours.
“Obviously Aaron and Teddy and there are a few others [leaving] as well,” coach Ivan Cleary said.
“We had a great crowd at the last game four weeks ago against Manly and it was a really good day.
“I know the boys would certainly appreciate it. I think everyone who comes down enjoys the day so hopefully we can get a crowd there.”
It is becoming a family affair at the Tigers. Bayley Sironen has followed in the footsteps of father Paul and brother Curtis in making his first-grade debut for the club last week. He has retained his spot for the Warriors clash.
“Bayley will definitely play,” Cleary said. “He came here as a kid and was probably watching the old man run around. He’s certainly been coming for many years.
“It’s good for Bayley, I thought he was good last week in his first outing. I’m sure he will draw a bit of confidence out of that. We’re looking for him to build on that.”