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Benji and Bennett set for reunion at Rabbitohs

Benji Marshall and Wayne Bennett are set to reunite once more at Redfern with the champion playmaker in negotiations with South Sydney for a 2021 swansong. understands Marshall has been floated a one-year contract by the Rabbitohs and is poised to take up the NRL lifeline. 

The club has not made any official comment on discussions with Marshall and his management.

With Marshall just one month shy of his 36th birthday, Bennett has flagged a second lifeline for the Kiwi star four years after revitalising his career at Brisbane on a cut-price deal.

Should Marshall take the paddock in cardinal and myrtle he would become the 10th player of the NRL era to play past his 36th birthday, and the oldest in this year's competition provided Cameron Smith does not play on.

Analysing the Rabbitohs' 2021 draw

His signing would be made from a depth perspective for the Rabbitohs, offering cover to gun halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds alongside top 30 squad members Troy Dargan and Dean Hawkins.

Walker and Reynolds have missed just 12 games between them over the past four seasons as one of the NRL's most durable halves pairings, though the former is in line for NSW Origin honours midway through 2021 after playing last year's series as Blues five-eighth.

As well as offering depth during the representative period, Bennett is an unabashed fan of Marshall's influence as a mentor having worked closely together in New Zealand national camp and at the Broncos.

Marshall had been facing an unceremonious end to his glittering NRL career as he spent the summer without a 2021 contract.

Cody Walker's 2020 season highlights

Wests Tigers informed Marshall last September that he would not be offered a deal for this coming season.

Talks were held with the Cowboys and Sharks only for both clubs to baulk at his asking price, while Marshall knocked back interest from Super League led by Hull FC, to stay in Sydney.

The potential Rabbitohs deal offers him a chance to do just that, with Marshall's burgeoning media career at Fox Sports a factor in his desire to stay in Australia.

Linking with South Sydney would result in Marshall turning out for his fourth NRL club after the Tigers (two stints), St George Illawarra and Brisbane across 18 seasons.

With 324 NRL appearances, he requires eight more games to move past Adam Blair as the most-capped New Zealander in premiership history.

Bennett signed Marshall for around $100,000 in late 2016 after the 2005 premiership-winner had called Bennett for career advice.

The Rabbitohs' 2020 season in review

Marshall made the most of Bennett's lifeline with 13 games as a half/utility and a key role mentoring Brisbane youngsters, paving the way for a Tigers homecoming in 2018.

The pair conversed again shortly after the Tigers confirmed 2020 would be Marshall's last at Concord, a decision he originally found out about via media reports.

Addressing Marshall's future in September, Bennett said he would happily coach him again but did not have space in the Rabbitohs roster at the time.

"I would if there was an opportunity here, but there isn’t an opportunity here so that can’t happen," Bennett said.

Benji Marshall in 2020 for Wests Tigers.
Benji Marshall in 2020 for Wests Tigers. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

"We’ve all seen Benji for a long time, so I don’t think I need to tell everybody about him, but I will tell you what you don’t see.

"He is an outstanding bloke, and he was outstanding with the players that we had at the Broncos at the time.

"We had a lot of young players there, and I can’t give him enough accolades for the contribution he made."

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