Benji Marshall is the biggest name in our game. But has the mercurial Wests Tigers playmaker done enough to be called a legend? There isn’t a man on this planet that thirsts for a Tigers premiership in 2012 more than Marshall.
Lets get one thing clear. Behind the flick passes, hot stepping and the high five’s Marshall is a family man. He cares about what people think and he cares about his place in history. The Kiwi captain knows that until he brings the Tigers a title, he wont be remembered as anything but another poster boy.
Marshall played in the 2005 Grand Final where the Tigers trounced the North Queensland Cowboys and yes he setup perhaps the greatest Grand Final try in history. But he wasn’t the main guy then. He was a kid without the pressure. Back then Wests shared the playmaking between Scott Prince, Brett Hodgson, Robbie Farah and Marshall.
The word legend is thrown around a lot these days. The modern era is filled with athletes that are constantly on our televisions. Constantly in the newspapers and constantly in our face.
A true legend is a man that leads from the front. With the weight of the world on his shoulders and still performs. No matter the situation and no matter the cost, he brings glory to his team and his fans. That glory is an NRL Premiership.
Laurie Daley won premierships with the Canberra Raiders in 1989 and 1990 as a kid and yet returned as a leader in 1994 and won it again.
Brad Fittler was barely out of school when he tasted premiership bliss with the Penrith Panthers in 1991. It would take another eleven years before Fittler would win it again. This time as the fearless Sydney Roosters captain with victory of the New Zealand Warriors.
The Newcastle Knights won their first title in 1997 with a brash young man by the name of Andrew Johns at number 7. Johns returned to the big dance four years later as the greatest player in the world and delivered his team the trophy.
These men all won premierships as boys. But they later returned as men and took what was rightfully theirs.
Then there’s Darren Lockyer. The man that Marshall strives to be the most. Marshall craves the respect Lockyer got throughout his career. The pressure Marshall puts on himself far outweighs the public pressure. Benji wants the history. He needs the grand final.
Last year was a tough one for Marshall with league greats preferring Lockyer. Brett Kenny and Terry Lamb both came out publicly and sided with the Brisbane great.
“It’s tough to split them but I’d still go with Locky” Lamb said.
“Just for the way he always performs in pressure situations. If a game is in the balance, yes, Benji often comes up with a terrific play. But Darren Lockyer does it eight, nine times out of every 10”.
“Then you also have to consider the influence he has over that young Brisbane side, the belief he creates in everyone around him. What he has takes years and years to develop.”
Only real success can put Marshall up there with the likes of Lockyer, Fittler and Johns. That real success is a premiership. Simply making the Finals isn’t good enough anymore.
Marshall has the time and the genius to do it. But does he have the will to be a leader amongst men? Off course he does. Now it’s a waiting game.
This article was originally posted on FootySocial.com.au