Benji Marshall and James Roberts – Do either have a future in the NRL?
One player who has yet to find a club for this upcoming season was a huge component of the Wests Tigers maiden Premiership way back in 2005. He was also a major influence in the Kiwis shock World Cup victory roughly 12 years ago. He’s also amassed over 1200 points in the NRL and even had a short stint with the Blues in the Super Rugby.
The other player is regarded as one of the fastest men in world Rugby League. He’s scored over 70 tries for several different clubs and has even represented the NSW Blues on a couple of occasions. Whilst he has also proudly represented the Indigenous All Stars in several games.
These athletes are yep, you guessed it, Benji Marshall and James Roberts. As per the rumours going around, Marshall reportedly wanted $400,000 per season to play for the Cowboys. However former teammate Todd Payten and his side clearly didn’t value him that high, offering him just a $150,000 deal.
As for Roberts, a pretty troubled bloke, he was recently released by the Rabbitohs on compassionate grounds.
Both are extremely talented players that are capable of strongly adding to a winning side on their day. But both also seem to have fairly high opinions of themselves. It appears that in Marshall’s case that he values himself much more than that of what he is worth. After all, surely there would’ve been some reasons behind the scenes perhaps that incentivised Michael Maguire not to re-sign the Leichardt legend?
For Roberts, alcohol addiction always seems to be the man’s undoing. And if someone like Wayne Bennett, a perceived tough yet loving father figure in the NRL couldn’t fix him, then who can?
Here’s why Marshall, a man who has played for the Tigers just under 260 games, does and doesn’t have a future in the NRL. The same for Roberts, a man who once scored a very, very impressive 21 games across a short 36-match stint for the Titans. It’s all right here.
Benji Marshall – He is a classy, classy player who knows what it takes to win at the highest levels of the game. He still has plenty left to offer in attack, plus his experience is paramount for any young side looking to get a bit of experience into them. The likes of Canterbury, Brisbane and some of the comps younger sides should all be hollering up his manager right now.
He showed during this campaign he still has some of that 2005 Benji Marshall flair, so why wouldn’t a young team take a chance on him?
Marshall has won a Premiership. He’s won a Rugby League World Cup. He’s achieved almost every individual accolade the game has to offer as well. If you’re looking for a winner, then a lot of clubs could surely do worse then taking on Marshall? Especially if he tones it down a bit and accepts a cheaper contract. Not only that, from 16 appearances this season, he scored 2 tries and registered 17 try assists. Whilst he also averaged 61 running m’s per match. His try assists total was higher than the likes of Tedesco, Taylor, Ponga and Smith. Not too bad eh?! What club wouldn’t want that sort of fine form added to their squad? Ultimately, if he lowers his asking price, then he should have little trouble finding a side suitable for him and his family, but that’s a big if.
James Roberts – For any side that struggles to finish, Roberts would be worth a punt. Newcastle has been mentioned as a potential suitor. Manly should throw their name into the mix as well. Whilst the Sharks might also want to check out what his deal is given some of the oldy attackers they possess. When he’s playing well, he burns the freaking house down. No scratch that, he burns the freaking entire neighbourhood down! He’s just too damn good when he’s in form and fit!
His speed, try-scoring ability, and the fact that he can create something out of nothing should all hopefully work well in his favour in his pursuit of continuing to choose to lengthen his NRL career. Just as an example, in 2018 he finished the season with 18 tries. According to the League Live App, that would rank better then the likes of (this campaign), Vunivalu with 14, Cotric with 14, Gagai with 11 and Tedesco with 11. And he strongly matches up against most of his opponents attacking-wise. If he can fix his grog problems and commit to a club for the foreseeable future, he would be an amazing buy. Especially so when you consider the reasonably cheap contractual price that he would come at.
Benji Marshall – There’s a perceived level of arrogance if he really thinks he’s worth that much, especially in today’s COVID affected market. That’s not the sort of baggage you’d want to bring into any side, let alone one trying to make a chase at the Premiership or attempting to solidify a spot in the finals. In addition to that, he’s also 35 years of age and is slowing down a fair bit. How much longer he’ll be efficient for, who knows?
The final factor working against him is his lack of anything resembling a basic defensive game. If this were football, he’d be the Mesut Ozil of defence. Or Basketball, the James Harden of defence. He has more trouble in defence than Todd Carney at the pub (soz for the savage burn Benji). But it’s true, he just can’t seem to hack it physically in that regard much anymore. So, for any coach wanting all of his players to at least try and crack it on in the more physical side of things, he’d quite possibly have to make an exception for Marshall. And again, the question remains, why did Madge not want him for at least for the next campaign?
James Roberts – Like seemingly half of the population of the NRL, the dude has a fairly serious alcohol addiction. And first and foremost, before anything else, for his own safety and mental well-being, he needs to get that under control or get it completely eradicated from his life. Even if it takes time, so be it. The NRL is spineless and is happy to give 2nd chances like Oprah gives out cars. But what has the NRL done to actually address the underlying issues? That’s an article for another time. So, I have no doubts he’ll be sweet in that regard.
Addiction is a serious issue that can absolutely ruin lives. So, he needs to make sure he’s in the all-clear before he returns to Australia’s most beautiful game. And just like Marshall, focusing on his defence a little bit wouldn’t do his case any harm either.
Best of luck to both of them. Both lads are extremely entertaining to watch play. Hopefully, they can forge their way back into the NRL. Cause it just wouldn’t be the same without em.