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How Billy and Benji put time in limbo to good use

Being sent to purgatory by coach Michael Maguire had some definite upsides for Billy Walters and Benji Marshall.

The duo were paired in the Wests Tigers halves for the first time on Friday night and responded by playing integral roles in the massive 48-0 win over Brisbane at Leichhardt Oval.

So how do you click so quickly with a first-time halves partner?

"Well, we both got dropped in the same game, after the Titans," Walters said of Maguire's response to the 28-23 loss to the Gold Coast in round four.

"We trained a lot together in the halves against the NRL team so I suppose we started building a bit of a connection there and took that into this week.

"So it hasn't just been seven days practice it's been the last few weeks."

Walters and Marshall each scored a try along with their decisive running, passing and kicking games.

Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Broncos

Walters's four-pointer in the 53rd minute was not only spectacular but his maiden NRL try.

"I honestly don't remember what I was doing so I might have to look at the replay," Walters said.

To help him refresh, it was a Marshall bomb that Walters latched onto with his boot volleying towards the goal posts on the full. He then out-sprinted Brodie Croft and Xavier Coates to make sure he grounded it first.

"I got pretty lucky. I thought I kicked it too hard and it was going to go dead," Walters said.

"I thought I had scored but then some of the boys said I dropped it so I wasn't too confident until the lights came up."

The 26-year-old spent a few years in the Storm system before heading to the Wests Tigers for 2020.

In his five games – four as interchange hooker and one as five-eighth – he's had three try assists and three line-break assists.

Walters player a lot of his junior football at No.6 and it is his preferred position.

"I guess wherever Madge [Maguire] wants to use me. I suppose if I had to pick it would be in the halves," Walters said.

"If eventually Brooksie [Luke Brooks] does come back in and I have to go back to that bench role then I can do that.

"At the moment it's just about trying to take the opportunity that I have and keep the spot."

It's a nice dilemma for Maguire to have – the utility value of Walters at rake or second receiver.

Walters never gives up the chase

"How good was Billy Walters? He was outstanding and it's a credit also to our staff to have players like Billy and Russell [Packer] come back in with their fitness levels up," Maguire said.

"I thought Billy and Benji were good. Brooksie will chime back in when the time is right."

For the time being, it looks like the Marshall-Walters show for next Friday night's clash with the Eels at Bankwest Stadium.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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