Benji Marshall insists he may play again next season and has not made any decision to end his illustrious 19-year career in Sunday night’s grand final.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett indicated after the Rabbitohs qualified for the grand final with last Friday night’s defeat of Manly that Marshall was set to bow out in the premiership decider against Penrith.
However, the 36-year-old, who will make his second grand final appearance16 seasons after leading Wests Tigers to the 2005 premiership, said he felt like he could continue.
Marshall also said the result on Sunday night would not determine his future and he was willing to consider offers from rival clubs for next season.
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"I think I have done a really good job in the last couple of years just playing each game as if it is my last and then at the end of the season making a decision about what I want to do," Marshall said.
"It is not going to be any different at the end of this year. Put it this way, the way my body feels right now I could play next year for sure if I wanted to.
"I will weigh all those things up at the end of the season, probably give it a bit of time to sink in and then make a decision after that.
"For me, it is more about if you have still got the passion and the desire to play then why not."
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The Kiwis international was reminded of his longevity in the game when students from Keebra Park High, where he attended while playing for the Tigers in 2003, performed a haka in his honour at an open training session on the Gold Coast.
Marshall has virtually been played from year-to-year since leaving St George Illawarra in 2016 after joining the club mid-season in 2014 following a brief rugby union stint.
He had quit the Tigers in 2013 over a contract dispute after 11 seasons and 201 NRL appearances with the club and was offered a lifeline by Bennett at the Broncos in 2017 on a small contract.
Coincidentally, it was current Penrith coach Ivan Cleary who invited him to return to the Tigers when he was in charge of the club in 2018 and after re-signing annually for the next two seasons Marshall seemed destined to finish where he begun.
However, he did not fit into the plans of the Tigers this season so Marshall again reached out to Bennett, who created a No.14 bench role for him at Souths that may prolong his career for another year.
“I knew within myself that I had something to offer and Wayne knew that I had something to offer," Marshall said.
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"It wasn’t just Wayne but the backing of the senior players when he asked them and then obviously the backing of the club to go through and bring me here.
"I’m really grateful for that; to still be playing and to have this opportunity to win another premiership is pretty special. It’s been so long I forgot what grand final is like.
"There’s probably been a couple of times, especially in the last few years, when it looked like my career was over but I have really felt the love being here and I’m really enjoying myself at the moment."
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Marshall said he was focused solely on the grand final and would make a decision on his future after the grand final.
However, friends wouldn't be surprised if he decided to play on next season and Marshall has told his manager Matt Desira to collate offers.
"I just said to my manager you just deal with whatever offers or anything comes your way and at the end of the season we will sit down and see what is on the table and make a decision," he said.
“We will see what happens and it doesn’t have to be at South Sydney. I don’t know what will happen but for now I am just focused on this week.
"You have got to be in it this week. You can’t be thinking about what’s happening next year or 'am I leaving'. That doesn’t matter. It is about now."