Benji wants to see Eastwood tackle rubbed out
More than two months after Dragons halfback Benji Marshall had his – and arguably his club's – 2015 season ended by an ugly judo-style tackle from Bulldogs lock Greg Eastwood, the playmaker is hoping new rules will see that style of tackle eradicated.
While Marshall holds no ill will towards his fellow Kiwi he is clearly still unhappy about the challenge that caused him a syndesmosis injury and ankle fracture and will prevent him running properly until after Christmas.
"I have watched [a replay of the tackle] a few times – it's not very nice is it? Probably something that will be stamped out of the game," Marshall said of the incident which forced him to sit out the final half hour of his side's agonising golden-point 11-10 elimination final loss to Canterbury in early September.
"At the time I didn't think anything of it but looking back we probably shouldn't allow those types of tackles anymore."
Marshall said it was his understanding Eastwood has previously been warned about those style of tackles.
"We can't have that in the game anymore. The wrapping the arms around someone and the twisting over, that's probably the big part," he added.
"I know it is unintentional and it is a contact sport so I just have to get over it... They have made it a rule now you can't do judo throws like that anymore."
Marshall insisted there was no lingering bad blood though, with Eastwood having apologised that night.
"I know Greg and he's not that type of player, and it is nothing personal and not trying to hurt anyone but probably a technique he has had in his game for a long time and the rules were there to allow it. Now that rule has been stamped out we can't have it any more."
There is also the wider issue regarding the protection of playmakers, particularly when kicking, which saw Marshall cop some big hits during 2015 when unable to protect himself. The 30-year-old continues to take the topic seriously.
"As kickers when you are in the air it is a pretty vulnerable position, it is something you can't control, so that is probably the biggest rule I want to see changed is attacking the kicker in the air," he said.
On his own future, Marshall is definitely keen to extend his stay in the NRL past when his current Dragons deal runs out at the end of the 2016 season, and preferably at his current club pending their plans for him.
"As long as I feel all right and motivated to go to training that's probably the biggest thing and the best think I like about the Dragons is I wake up and actually want to go to training and see the boys," he said.
"We've got such a great crew and a great bunch of guys that it's a place you want to be. Hopefully another couple of years. I'm contracted to the end of this year with the Dragons. I'll sit down with 'Mary' [coach Paul McGregor] and see where I want to go. If it's with the Dragons it will be and if not somewhere else in Australia."
Marshall also revealed his bold plans for 2016: to lead the Dragons to a premiership and reclaim his Kiwi jersey. The latter will be a tough ask given he is seemingly on the outer with coach Steve Kearney.
"It's not the end of the world for me [if I don't play another test]. I'm enjoying playing for the Dragons," he said.
"I want to win another premiership. If we do that hopefully I'm one of the best players in the comp. It might lead to [test selection] again and if it doesn't I've had a great international career. It's something I won't shut the door on. I think you've got to have something to strive towards at the end of the season and I'll be pushing for that til I retire."