Welcome home Benji

Back where he belongs: Benji Marshall will likely see out his career with the Wests Tigers when he returns next season. Picture: Robb Cox/Action Photographics

Back where he belongs: Benji Marshall will likely see out his career with the Wests Tigers when he returns next season. Picture: Robb Cox/Action Photographics

Benji’s back.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment.

Legendary prodigal son of the black, white and orange Benji Marshall will return home to the Wests Tigers, five years after leaving the club for the Auckland Blues rugby union team.

Opinion on Marshall’s return has thus far been divided.

He’s only signed on for the 2018 season and at this stage it’s not clear what his contract is worth.

Some fans think the whole concept is ill-advised and would rather see the club spend its money on a young up-and-comer instead of a 32-year-old has-been.

Others think it’s fitting that Benji should return home to see out his turbulent career.

Where do I fall on the issue?

I think it’s great that Benji’s coming home.

To me, Benji Marshall is the centre of the Wests Tigers success story.

I think back to the days when every kid in the juniors practised their ‘Benji steps' and pulled on a pair of neon-coloured boots just like their favourite footy player.

Benji Marshall was a huge marketing tool for the club for years.

His reach was far and wide – people who knew nothing about NRL still knew about Benji.

Sure, his game might be far from what it was back in the day, but Benji has a real love for the Wests Tigers and I think many fans, especially those who can remember the flick pass like it was yesterday, have a real love for him.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect the cheeky Kiwi is going to lead the team to a series of victories with the number six on his back, but I do think he’ll be a welcome personality in the locker-room and training paddock.

He knows what it’s like to be in a winning Wests Tigers team – a premiership-winning Wests Tigers team.

The club has gone through so many changes since he left at the end of 2013 (not to mention three coaches) and Benji might just be that little blast from the past the young up-and-comers that are there need.

So, welcome home, Benji.

We at Tiger Talk have missed you, Campbelltown Stadium has missed you and I’m sure the box-office vendors have missed you too.