Wayne Bennett says Benji Marshall will bow out of the NRL alongside all-time greats like Allan Langer and Andrew Johns after a stellar 19-year career in the game.
The man who Marshall credited for resurrecting his career twice, including in his final season this year, Bennett led the tributes to the veteran playmaker after he officially announced his retirement on Wednesday.
Bennett, who reflected on Marshall's journey as a teenager who moved from New Zealand to Keebra Park High, to a premiership-winner at the Wests Tigers and retiring Rabbitoh, said the Kiwi would go down as one of the greats.
"When you talk about the great players of the game whether it's the past or future he'll always be in that category of players, no doubt about that, none at all," Bennett said.
"How do you define the greatest player of all time? I can't do that, but I can tell you he's in that category.
Benji the magician: Marshall ends stellar career
"The influence he's had on the game and the way it's played, the players that have wanted to be like him are many.
"I think that's the greatest legacy for players, is that young boys growing up and see him play want to be like Benji, Andrew Johns and Allan Langer – all those wonderful players I've seen in the last 20-30 years.
"He'll be up there in those conversations. He's won premierships, World Cups and done everything the game can offer."
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Marshall's former clubs, Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra and Brisbane Broncos, also paid tribute to the 36-year-old's achievements throughout his career.
He was awarded life membership of the Wests Tigers in 2013 before his brief stint in rugby union followed with stints at the Dragons and Broncos.
His return to the Wests Tigers in 2018 was a celebrated homecoming but the club's decision not to re-sign him last year saw him finish his career in the red and green of South Sydney.
"Wests Tigers would like to extend its congratulations to Benji on a magnificent career and his exceptional contributions to the club throughout his 14 seasons with Wests Tigers," his former club said.
"The club wishes Benji, his wife Zoe and children Fox and Ever, all the best for the future."
The NZRL paid tribute to Marshall with a tweet congratulating their international player #717.
Former Kiwis teammate Issac Luke said Marshall would leave a lasting legacy.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said Marshall had inspired a generation.
"Kids wanted to play rugby league to be just like Benji Marshall. Not only was he a brilliant player with unique talent but his charismatic personality attracted fans to him," V'landys said.
"Few players have had an impact on the game quite like Benji did. Not only did Benji reach the pinnacle of our sport, he was also a fine ambassador for the game and a leader in every squad he was part of.
"On behalf of the Commission, I wish Benji every success in the next chapter of his life."
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NRL CEO Andrew Abdo added Marshall would be remembered as one of the greats.
"Benji was one of a kind on the field. His flick pass to Pat Richards in the 2005 Grand Final will forever be part of rugby league history," Abdo said.
"In many ways Benji revolutionised the way the game was played. Rugby league is better for Benji’s contribution and I congratulate him on a remarkable career."