Benji Marshall is back, with the Wests Tigers’ NRL veteran given a reprieve and recalled to come off the bench as a super sub against South Sydney.
Axed by coach Michael Maguire a month ago, there had been some thought Marshall might have played his last top-grade game for the club.
However, the 35-year-old will make his comeback on Friday night at Bankwest Stadium, with fellow veteran Chris Lawrence to also return and possibly start in the centres.
“Benji will be off the bench; he is back ready to go,” Maguire said.
“He has been working really hard at all the things we’ve spoken about.
“His presence around the team and what he has been doing in the background with his team, he has been showing it all his career.
“I know him well and he has been able to show that in my time since he has been here.”
Dropped after their shock loss to Gold Coast in round four, Marshall has been told to fix his defence after their left side leaked points.
After 312 NRL games and off contract, he could have been forgiven for slipping into the background and believing he would not get another shot.
But he will come into the 17 for Sam McIntyre, who has not recovered from a head knock in last week’s loss to Penrith.
Teenaged winger Reece Hoffman will also debut for the Tigers, coming in for Tommy Talau who is out with a hamstring injury.
How the Tigers use Marshall is yet to be decided, given his entrance at the halves will prompt some form of reshuffle likely seeing Josh Reynolds move to hooker.
“He (Marshall) was very happy, he’s a champion player and competitors like Benji ride the wave of the game,” Maguire said.
“Obviously, it was tough news at the start, but he understood.
“Benji is all about the Wests Tigers, we know that and he has been saying that for many years.
“He might get a little time or a lot of time … When he has his moment in time to come on, he’s just got to kick on with where we are building the game.”
His return will come against Souths coach Wayne Bennett, the man who had given Marshall his first big lifeline when not re-signed in 2016 by St George Illawarra.
At the time, it again looked like his career was over before he made the call to Bennett and asked for a contract at Brisbane.
“I’ve got great respect for Benji … so I’m pleased he’s in the team,” Bennett said.
“He’ll bring something to the team, he’s a really positive guy and is great to be around for young players. I’m pleased for his sake.”