Benji solves key problems for Tigers: Elijah
Co-captain Elijah Taylor is in no doubt the Wests Tigers have now solved two of their major problems with the return of Benji Marshall.
The club has desperately missed the experience and on-field leadership of the 2010 Golden Boot winner since he left four years ago for a brief stint in rugby, three seasons at the St George Illawarra Dragons and another at the Brisbane Broncos.
Searching for the right recipe to revive the struggling joint venture club, coach Ivan Cleary turned to a familiar face in Marshall, who spent the first 10 years of his decorated playing career as a Tiger, including the memorable 2005 premiership victory.
In round one of the Telstra Premiership an underestimated Tigers clan proved they are here to compete with the big dogs with their 10-8 upset win over the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium, with Marshall playing a central role after a late call-up to the starting side to replace injured recruit Josh Reynolds.
"Benji Marshall was outstanding in the weekend's game, his experience really shone through," Taylor said.
"When [Luke] Brooks got sent off for 10 minutes Benji just controlled the game, he slowed it down, he kicked it out.
Match: Storm vs Wests Tigers
Venue: AAMI Park
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"It was an outstanding performance from Benji and I believe having his experience on the field got us the win."
Russell Packer and Ben Matulino were also standouts and Taylor said having two more veterans by his side, along with Marshall, had lifted a weight off his shoulders.
"Definitely, it’s made it so much easier," he said.
"They’ve brought experience and a bit of mongrel to our pack as well. Their experience in that tight game was vital, they just knew exactly what to do.
"When you’re playing with experienced players they’re just really calm and they know exactly what’s needed at the time, because they’ve been there so many times before. Last year and the years before I suppose we’ve been inexperienced in those tight games and we’ve lost a lot of them.
"This year we’ve recruited well, we’ve brought experience and it showed what it can do in tight games."
Taylor said there was still work to be done to improve the Tigers leading into Saturday's clash against premiers Melbourne Storm.
"The win on the weekend wasn’t pretty, it was very scrappy but we showed our energy, our enthusiasm and our willingness to turn up for each other. It’s something we’ve tried to implement all pre-season from November so it’s good to see that the fruits of our labour are showing," he said.
"We’ve got to be consistent with our energy in defence and our attacks got to be a lot better. Our attack was clunky against the Roosters.
"We made a lot of soft errors and let them off the hook so we need to focus on completing our sets, getting to a kick and building pressure."