Benji called Wayne Bennett to plead for a coaching job
Benji Marshall was looking for a coaching role when he rang Wayne Bennett last week, but instead received a lifeline to continue his playing career into a remarkable 19th season.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Marshall asked his old mentor if there was any room on his coaching staff for a retired premiership winning five-eighth.
Marshall, who was let go by the Tigers after the 2020 season always held out hopes of playing on in 2021, but was resigned to having to retire up until that fateful phone call.
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Marshall had turned down the opportunity to link with former premiership winning teammate and Cowboys coach Todd Payten at North Queensland on a deal worth $220,000, in a bid to stay in Sydney with his wife Zoe, who is pregnant with their second child.
It was the same reason Marshall refused to take up a $750,000 contract at Hull FC that would have gone down as the most lucrative in Super League history.
The 35-year-old was also linked to the Sharks, but negotiations with the Shire club came to an abrupt halt months ago.
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The Bulldogs were another club reportedly interested, but their desire to lure 2022 signing Matt Burton a year earlier prevented them from advancing negotiations with Marshall.
Marshall was preparing to become a commentator with Fox Sports on a deal worth $200,000, while another role calling games for Triple M radio was in the works.
However Bennett, who baulked at signing Marshall last year produced one of his trademark backflips and on Wednesday informed his players that the club would be signing Marshall.
Marshall has scored 93 tries in 324 games for the Tigers, Broncos and Dragons since his debut in 2003.
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Bennett and Marshall worked together at international level with the New Zealand side and it was also the former Broncos coach who offered him a first career lifeline at Red Hill in 2017.
The NRL are yet to officially register Marshall's contract while it awaits salary cap approval, but he is expected to start training on Friday.
Bennett will likely use Marshall's experience to work with halves pairing Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker at training, but his game time is expected to be limited.
Marshall would be the ideal halves replacement if Walker is injured or on Origin duty, but a bench role that he filled at the Broncos is unlikely.
Bennett is trying to win a premiership in his third and final year at the Rabbitohs and Marshall is the final piece in his roster as he plots a grand farewell at Redfern.
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Originally published as Benji called Wayne Bennett to plead for a coaching job. When he hung up he had an NRL lifeline