Author: John Matheson, Text Benji Marshall, Tribute to a rugby league genius
This book is the biography of Benji Marshall. He is a rugby league player from New Zealand. He has played for several different teams including The West tiger, St George Illawarra, Brisbane Broncos and back to the Tigers. Benjis longest stint was with the West Tigers (10 years) where he started his career. He also had a short stint playing rugby union where he played for the blues. Through Benji’s career, he deals with injuries and negative criticism and controversy.
Benji grew up in whakatane without his biological father. His mom was just fifteen when he was born. This meant it would be very hard for Lydia (Benji’s mum) to raise Benji by herself. So she got her family together and had everyone help look after and raise Benji. This would be his grandparent, aunts, and uncles and in-laws. Benji grew up with a lot of different people he thought were like fathers to him. They would take him in for anywhere between a week to a year. Benji felt this lifestyle was good for him to learn life lesson and made him tough. He would sleep on the floor, get picked on by his uncles in whanau games of touch where he would cry and having to eat weetbix for breakfast and dinner.
This sort of lifestyle was about to go really bad for Marshall though. As an Adolescent Benji did what most kids and his friends did that were in his situation, got into fights and missed days of school. This was a path that would lead Benji in and out of jail, so when he had received rugby trial on the Gold coast his mum was smart enough to try and get him over there as quick as possible. After some eye-catching play and some connection to the NRL Benji had been given his NRL debut by coach Tim Sheen at just 18. Benji was able to play the last few games of the season and eventually make the team for the 2004 season.
This is when the bad luck started for Marshall as he had several shoulder injuries that plagued him throughout the 2004 season. They didn’t stop there as in a preseason game Marshall injured his shoulder again which kept him from the first game of the season. Once Marshall returned they had quite the up and down season winning the next three games followed by a four-game losing streak and splitting the next six games. Then the side went on to set a club record of eight straight wins, but Marshall had injured his shoulder once again, although just considered minor. Marshall was able to be back for the playoffs where he leads the team to the Grand Final after a couple of outstanding performances where he displayed the Marshall factor, with excellent offensive and defensive efforts. The Tigers went on to win the Grand Final 30 – 12 over the Cowboys. The Marshall factor was also seen on the biggest stage as he set up perhaps one of the greatest ever tires in a Grand final at just 20 years old. It was such a tribute to Marshall after all of the early injuries for him to keep performing and not get his head down. For most players of his age, it would have been such a tough thing to go through mentally, yet he pushed through it.
Injuries were a big issue in Marshall’s career and he felt like it set him back a lot. From 2006 to 2008 Marshall missed 30 career NRL games due to injuries. That’s an entire seasons worth. These injuries also kept Marshall out of kiwis games, Until 2008. This was the year of the Rugby League World Cup. Marshall had made to the end of the year without injury. This left a lot of pressure of Benji to come up with something special to help push to win the cup. With a rough start to the competition against Australia they under the pump but managed to get things together and made the final. Benji was injury free and had been playing great footy so there was a lot of pressure on him to perform if the Kiwis wanted to win. The Kiwis won and Marshall scored a try and kicked to goals, giving them the boost they needed.