Benji Marshall doesn’t have time to waste playing Mr Nice Guy.
The 35-year-old knows his NRL days are winding down and he wants to make the most of them while he can.
Told by the Wests Tigers he was unwanted at the end of last year, Marshall was on the lookout for another club during the off-season and last month was handed a lifeline by Souths, who signed him on a one-year deal.
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The playmaker has made an immediate impact at Redfern, taking no prisoners in his quest for perfection as he chases a second NRL premiership, after winning the 2005 grand final with the Tigers.
Marshall recently gave good friend, Rabbitohs and NSW hooker Damien Cook, a gobful when he wasn’t up to scratch at training, shocking the representative No. 9 by calling out his “s**t” passes.
Speaking about the reality check, Marshall told Fox Sports News: “Part of being in a team, people have just got to take it the right way. It’s not about putting people on show, it’s just an expectation that you have from each other.
“I think when you have success you’ve got to have that expectation where you want… your connection between the halves and hookers is very important, between the halves and the fullback or your back row and your halves.
“The connections that you have, you have to work on at training and Cooky gives me so much stick during the week.”
Marshall said the most important part of his spray was how Cook responded, setting an important example for younger players at the club.
Benji isn’t holding back.Source:Getty Images
Cook loved being held to higher standards.Source:Getty Images
“I needed him to know that his passes were s**t,” Marshall said.
“And you know what? I got a reaction because he was out there practising his passing at the end of training and what that does to all the young guys is, well Damien Cook plays Origin but he’s out there at the end of training still practising his passes at the end of training.
“That’s what it’s about.
“It’s not so much about me saying to him, ‘Get your passes up’, it’s more about what happens after it.
“I feel like you’ve got to be able to challenge your teammates, you don’t have to have fight, but challenge each other to be better and that’s pretty much what that was about.”
Cook took the constructive criticism the right way, saying Marshall’s spray helped keep him on his toes.
“The other day I threw a couple of bad passes to him at training and he sprayed me for it,” Cook said last week.
“Benji told me straight away. As much as it shocked me, it was good to hear.
“It was sort refreshing because I haven’t had that. You might get some young players who don’t want to tell you if you throw a bad one. I respect Benji and everything he has done in the game.
“I loved that he sprayed me. It’s probably one thing we can definitely work on is making sure we hold each other accountable. Benji has come in and a couple of little comments like that will spread through the group in a good way.
“If Benji can bring that accountability to us senior players at the club, it will then filter through the group.”
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