'Not Going To Sit Back And Listen To Wayne': The 'big Reason' Why Bennett Signed Benji To The Bunnies

‘Not Going To Sit Back And Listen To Wayne’: The ‘big Reason’ Why Bennett Signed Benji To The Bunnies
Darcie McDonald
Source: FOX SPORTS
February 18, 2021 5:53pm

When the Rabbitohs unveiled Benji Marshall as their newest signing in January there were a lot of people who had to pick their jaw up off the floor.

Why would Wayne Bennett need Marshall — a 35-year-old half who has one or two seasons left in him — when he has one of the most experienced halves combinations in the competition?

South Sydney’s star hooker Damien Cook put it quite simply on Thursday. Bennett needs him because the Kiwi Test legend is willing to push boundaries no other player would dare try.

The pair have spent a lot of time together over the years whether it be at Red Hill when Bennett signed Marshall to the Broncos or in camp with the NRL All Stars and New Zealand Test squad.

They’ve formed a unique bond where Marshall is not afraid to disagree or put forward his own ideas.

“Because they’ve been together at a couple of different clubs they’ve got a great relationship where Benji’s not going to sit back and listen to Wayne,” Cook told Foxsports.com.au.

“If he’s got something to say he’ll say it and I think that’s a big reason why Wayne wanted to bring him to the club.”

Of course Marshall brings a lot more to Redfern than just the confidence to push back at the most experienced coach in the game.

There’s the 324 NRL games, 31 caps for New Zealand, the famous footwork and that iconic flick pass. We all know his legacy. And so do his new teammates… well most of them.

“We actually figured out that one of the boys, Davvy Moale is 17-years old and Benji has been playing for 19 years so he’s been playing since before Davvy was born,” Cook grinned.

Marshall might not find that revelation so amusing.

But all jokes aside, the rugby league icon has already had a big impact on Cook who said he is “a breath of fresh air” and will particularly benefit the leaders in the squad.

"Since Sam (Burgess), Greg (Inglis) and (John) Sutton have left the playing group, Reyno, Cody and myself have been the senior players but now to have Benji come in, it sort of keeps us accountable.

“I think it’s going to be really good for us in making sure we’re kept on our toes and keeping it fresh. We can learn off him and obviously his experience in the game and everything he’s done, he’s going to be a great addition for us.”

So with every key position for the Rabbitohs already filled with one of the best the competition has to offer, where will Marshall fit in?

According to Cook, we’ll likely see him fill the bench utility role.

"He’s done a bit (of training) in the halves, I know he’d be fine if he had to play hooker as well and with the way the game is going he could come on at lock in the middle as well and have that extra hooker or half on the field.

"Watching him during ball skills he’s still got all the skills he’s had his whole career.

“If anything the game is heading the right way for Benji to be a great utility player.”

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Related to this event: https://warren.rabbitohs.net/t/fox-league-launch-mal-says-ask-kevvie-about-550k-smith-question-matty-s-new-show/10677

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I’d rather not have Benji in the bench; I see him as a back up only. Though I am just a couch selector as we all are.

Would prefer a bench to have a utility that can actually tackle; Benji is a liability in D.

For that, I’d go with:

  1. Knight
  2. Kaloamatangi
  3. Nichols/Mago/Sele
  4. Mansor

Appreciate that people will ask why Mansour on the bench; well he can cover centre, wing and FB. He can also play some minutes in the middle; Mark Hughes always saw him as a back rower when he was an u20’s player (he said to me anyway). I want to see Paulo get more of a chance before Mansour takes the wing - he needs to get it off Paulo IMO (makes for competition).

I see Benji as per the articles; training guru! Get the blokes to lift as he is saying to Cook, and to be played when and if the halves are injured.

I digress What will be, will be.

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I think we can lock Mansour in at wing. We really needed a player who can be like an extra forward carting the ball out of our own end on kick returns. That’s Mansour in a nutshell and it doesn’t diminish the flexibility you value.
I can’t claim to be able to read Wayne’s mind but I think we’ll see Benji on the bench most games, to be injected at optimum times to spark the attack.

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Benji has been playing a lot of dummy half at some training sessions. It may become a shared position with Cook.

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I reckon that would be a real smart move.
By the end of the year, after an Origin campaign and a long season Cookie has been a bit shellshocked in the big games.
Maybe a rest for a few games before the finals would do everyone the world of good?
As well or, maybe instead of missing a few games for some R&R, maybe a 10 min break during the 2nd half in some games would suffice in keeping Cookie sharp mentally & physically?

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I never thought of Benji as a back up hooker but given he player there in the CS it makes sense. If just to freshen up Cook post SSO it could be a master stroke