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Bennett encouraged Benji's Tigers return

Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett says he encouraged Benji Marshall to sign with the Wests Tigers for the 2018 season. 

The 32-year-old Marshall will re-join the club where he made his NRL debut in 2003 after this week announcing a one-year deal that will likely see him end his career at Concord. 

Marshall is a favourite son of the Tigers after helping them to a premiership win in 2005. After departing the club in 2013, Marshall had a stint with the Auckland Blues in Super Rugby before returning to the NRL with the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2014. 

He spent three years with the Red V but was left without a club at the end of 2016 after rejecting a one-year deal that would have seen him remain a Dragon.

With Marshall's career at the crossroads it was Bennett who offered Marshall a last-minute lifeline, with the master coach seeing something in the experienced campaigner. 

It is a gamble that has paid off, with Marshall's leadership doing wonders on and off the field, particularly for Brisbane's young halves. 

But with limited money available in the Broncos' salary cap for 2018, Marshall has been forced to depart. 

Bennett has given Marshall his blessing, thankful for the 10 times the former New Zealand international pulled on a Broncos jersey this year. 

"Yeah he did [talk to me about it]. I encouraged him to go actually. I was keen for him to go," Bennett said. 

"It's a good offer for him and it's his original club. He has a lot of history there and he was a great player for them so it's a great way for him to finish his career. 

"Last year nobody wanted him and 12 months on he's got offers." 

Brisbane will face one of Marshall's former clubs on Friday night, with the Dragons travelling up to Suncorp Stadium to try and keep their finals hopes alive. 

It is a club Bennett knows well having coached the Red V for three years, including to a premiership in 2010. 

Bennett is looking forward to taking on the club he where had so much success, saying games between Brisbane and St George Illawarra always produced an exciting brand of football. 

"I just enjoy playing against good football clubs. I think they are a good football team," he said. 

"I spent a wonderful three years there so I have a lot of relationships there. We play great footy against each other. 

"Dragons v Broncos has never been anything else but good football so it should be a really good game.

"They are at that place where they have to win and we are at that place where we want to maintain our momentum." 


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