Benji the Bronco remains a mystery
Sam Thaiday did a double-take when he looked to see who was on his outside shoulder and Jordan Kahu is coming to terms with job-sharing with his boyhood idol, but how Benji Marshall fits into the Broncos set-up in 2017 remains a mystery.
With the full contingent all now back in training the ballwork sessions run by the Broncos coaching staff on Monday morning gave a few insights into the structure of the side this year just three weeks out from the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.
Although only nine of his 255 career NRL matches have been played anywhere outside the halves, Marshall spent Monday's session switching between left centre and fullback with Thaiday revealing he has also spent time training at dummy-half.
With Kodi Nikorima (shoulder) pushing to be fit in time for Round 1 the likely scenario for Marshall to line up against the Sharks would be a spot on the interchange bench and Thaiday admits that it was odd to have the former Tiger and Dragon looming up on his outside.
"It is a bit weird," Thaiday said. "He's been bouncing into a few different positions as well, playing a bit of dummy-half, a bit of centre, jumps into the halves as well so who knows where we'll use him this year.
"He's great to have around the club; it's good to have another old boy around. We're a dying breed at the moment," added Thaiday, with Marshall pipping him by four months as the oldest player at the club in 2017.
Kahu's path to the NRL mirrored that of Marshall having come through the famed Keebra Park High School program on the Gold Coast and was heavily influenced by the former Kiwi captain's emergence.
With Tom Opacic still nursing two shoulder reconstructions back to full health Kahu is the leading contender to fill the left centre vacancy created by the retirement of Jack Reed but said Marshall would make a good fist of any position he was thrust into.
"I think he could play anywhere if he wanted to," said Kahu.
"I've known 'Benj' for a while now so it's good to see his face at training and he's a bit of a character and training really well.
"He's right up there in the fitness and all those sorts of things and teaching the young boys a fair bit as well.
"Obviously he had a similar path [to the NRL]. He started at Keebra Park and every kid that goes to Keebra Park kind of idolises Benji Marshall because he started all of that with all the Kiwi boys going through there and making it to the NRL.
"He's had a fair few injuries so to see him still running around at 43 – I think he is now – is good and it's a blessing to have him here."
Due to turn 32 next month, Marshall played 16 games for the Dragons in 2015 before being thrown a career lifeline by Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
Given his bargain-basement price he was an experienced insurance policy too good to pass up with very little back-up for halves Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt on the roster, either of whom could be called up for Origin football this year.