Marshall a chance to play on next year
"If there's an itch, he’ll get me to scratch it."
That's the approach veteran Broncos half Benji Marshall has taken this year in his first season under master coach Wayne Bennett.
The 32-year-old has achieved almost all there is in the game; he won a competition with the Wests Tigers in 2005, helped guide the Kiwis to World Cup glory in 2008 and was the poster boy for the game when he burst onto the scene as a fleet-footed magician with silky ball skills to match.
In a career that's had it all, Marshall spent 11 seasons at the Tigers, defected to rugby union in 2014, but was back in the NRL later that year in the famous Red V. His time at the Dragons was plagued by injuries, and after two-and-a-half seasons he inked a one-year deal with the Broncos.
With star playmakers Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford already on the books, it was unclear how the 2010 Golden Boot winner would be used in Brisbane. Marshall came off the bench in the Round 3 loss against the Storm but was then sidelined after he fractured his wrist playing for Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup.
He earned a recall to the NRL side for the Round 12 trip to New Zealand in place of the State of Origin bound Anthony Milford, and after playing a starring role in a well-beaten side, was retained after Milford failed to back up from his Maroons debut.
The 32-year-old showed no signs of rust against the Roosters with a try, an assist and plenty of nice touches in the thrilling 18-16 loss on the weekend, and such is his form that there is no reason to suggest he can't play on beyond 2017.
"I still feel like I've got a bit to offer. The body's still feeling OK – I feel like I've gotten past the injury phase now that I had at the start of the year so I just want to play some consistent footy," Marshall said following Saturday night's game.
"I'm really enjoying life in Brisbane and I feel like it's making me…when I turn up to training every day bring a lot of energy, and when I turn up to a game I just try to bring energy to the field. In both games I thought I did that.
"I don't know if it's going to be my last season or not, but I'm certainly going to make sure – if it is – I go out having fun and play with a lot of energy.
"I'm not sure what's going to happen but I'm definitely loving life up there. To be honest, it's the happiest I've been for a long time. Regardless of playing first grade or not, I'm still enjoying life which I think is important.
"I probably battled a little bit for the last few years in Sydney with driving from Sydney to Wollongong so living two minutes from training is pretty nice.
"I think what it (moving to Brisbane) does, it takes you out of your comfort zone and you've got to make new friends. For me, I'm pretty good at that – getting to know people.
"I feel like one of my strength is getting in amongst the boys and getting to know everyone and trying to get everyone together. That's something that I pride myself on and that's why I love this club because they're a professional outfit."
One of the main attractions for Marshall to join the Broncos was the opportunity to work with and mentor the likes of Milford and Hunt.
"That's half the reason why I signed here," he said.
"I just like to get to know people and give a bit of advice where I can and chime in. I'm not scared to say something. With these two guys here, my biggest thing was wanting to get to know them off the field.
"I think with a good halves combination, half the battle is off the field and being comfortable with each other, and on the field I think it pays off.
"With these guys, I think I came here and probably challenged them a little bit and maybe put a bit of pressure on them to step up. I've noticed at training and throughout the season that they've definitely done that.
"I'm comfortable with where I'm at playing second fiddle behind those blokes and I've come to terms with that, but if I get the opportunity like tonight, I'll fill in and they can be confident that I'll do my job."
Marshall has clearly made an impression on his coach, with Bennett hinting that a contract extension could be on the cards.
"He's relishing it. He's a wonderful player Benji and he's been a great player in our game," the Broncos coach said.
"We'll try and keep him here for another year.
"I was overseas when the decision was made for Benji to come here and the critics and all the ones who want to second guess whatever you do had plenty to say, but right now Benji has been a great investment for us. We have a quality player playing in a key position in our team."
Whatever happens in the next few months, Marshall can look back fondly at what he's achieved in the game and know that he can more than match it with the next generation of stars coming through the grade.
"I'm pretty comfortable with what I've done in my career, to be honest with you," he said.
"I'm just trying to prove it to myself at the moment that I can still do it. Within myself I know that I can and I thought the last two games I showed signs of getting back to where I want to be."