Wayne Bennett has revealed he encouraged Benji Marshall to return home to Wests Tigers next year, saying the Kiwi international had earned a dream finish to his career.
A fairytale ending at the joint venture appeared unlikely for Marshall barely 12 months ago when the former New Zealand skipper was forced to snap up an NRL lifeline from Brisbane after being left without a club following 14 seasons in the top grade.
But the 32-year-old revelled in his second chance, playing nine games to date this year but having an even bigger impact as halves mentor for Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt and Kodi Nikorima.
Barely a year after attracting little interest, Marshall was suddenly receiving offers from rival clubs for 2018 – including his beloved Tigers where he sparked his career back in 2003.
“I encouraged him to go. I was keen for him to go. It was a good offer for him,” Bennett said.
“It’s his origin club. He’s got a lot of history there and he was a great player for them.
“It’s a great way for him to finish his career.
“Last year nobody wanted him. Twelve months on at least he has got offers now.”
Marshall played 201 games for the Tigers from 2003-13 including their famous 2005 premiership win.
The 2010 Golden Boot winner is expected to adopt a similar mentoring role at the Tigers with Luke Brooks and Bulldogs recruit Josh Reynolds.
Brisbane winger Corey Oates claimed Marshall’s 2017 stint at the Broncos had been the “greatest thing that has happened” to Hunt, Milford and Nikorima.
“You could not have asked for a greater role model for our young halves,” Oates told AAP.
“For him to be able to share his knowledge is probably the greatest thing that has happened to them.”