29 Sep 2021

Benji not done with NRL just yet

12:52 pm on 29 September 2021

Former Kiwis captain Benji Marshall has given the best indication yet he will continue into a record 20th NRL season, declaring his body feels good enough to play on.

In what many have billed as Marshall's NRL grand-final farewell against Penrith this weekend, the South Sydney player has indicated he's far from hanging up his boots after 346 games.

He also revealed his future may not necessarily be at the Rabbitohs, willing to go on the market again if South Sydney are not interested in keeping him.

Regardless of what his options are for 2022, Marshall is adamant he is not retiring for now.

"Put it this way - the way my body feels right now, I could play next year for sure," Marshall said.

"I'll weigh all those things up at the end of the season. I will give after this weekend a bit of time for it to sink in," he said.

Rabbitohs Benji Marshall in action during the NRL Qualifying Final against the Penrith Panthers.
The two sides will meet again in the grand final.

Rabbitohs Benji Marshall in action during the NRL Qualifying Final against the Penrith Panthers. The two sides will meet again in the grand final. Photo: Photosport

"I think I have done a really good job in the last few years of playing every game as if it is my last.

"And then, at the end of the season, making a decision on what I am feeling. It's not going to be any different this year."

If Marshall did go on, he would go past Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen to become the first player to play 20 straight NRL seasons.

It comes just days after Wayne Bennett virtually retired Marshall, stating there would be no better way for him to go out than with a grand-final win.

But the 36-year-old does not agree with the man who has now twice saved his career.

He has also not contemplated where his future could lie, telling his manager to take any offers seriously and consider them at season's end.

The NRL grand final is going ahead in Brisbane, despite Queensland's latest COVID-19 scare with a final decision about the event expected to be made on the day.

Souths have signed Anthony Milford for next season and he could play a similar role to Marshall, but his future is clouded after being charged with assault.

"It doesn't have to be at South Sydney," Marshall said.

"But I'm just focused on this week. You have to be in it this week. You can't be focusing on what's happening next year."

There is no doubt Marshall could continue to be an asset to Souths on a cut-price deal.

Some 16 years after his last grand final with Wests Tigers, Marshall has morphed into an ideal No.14 in a faster game that suits the role.

The advent of concussion checks has made the position necessary, while the likes of Marshall and Dylan Walker have made the No.14 a threat in the middle.

"What's funny, all the positions I've had to play are easier than playing in the halves," Marshall said.

"In the halves, you have to control the field, everyone in position.

"In the forward pack, my job is so easy, I just need to get it to Cody Walker.

"I love the role and, who knows, I think it's revolutionised the position."