Benji backs Reynolds to return
BENJI Marshall agrees the battle is on for the Wests Tigers No. 6 jersey, saying of rival Josh Reynolds: "He shouldn't be playing reserve grade".
Apart from having the Tigers sit atop an NRL ladder for the first time in franchise history, new coach Michael Maguire must also now decide what, if anything, he does with $3 million recruit Reynolds.
While the 29-year-old has again been listed outside the Tigers top squad, in jersey No. 19, for Sunday's showdown with Canterbury-Bankstown, an outstanding performance in reserves last week has ignited talk of a potential 'super sub' role.
Marshall agrees that even after his own solid showing against the Warriors last start - where he orchestrated a try and polled Dally M points - the player dubbed 'Grub' will keep him under plenty of pressure in his farewell season.
The Tigers favourite watched Reynolds closely as he starred for Western Suburbs in the curtain-raiser last Sunday afternoon, scoring two tries and orchestrating four more in a standout performance against the Warriors reggies.
"I thought Josh was great," Marshall said. "His energy, his kick chase, all the little things he was really awesome at.
"That's why it's so hard … because Josh is a first-grader.
"He really shouldn't really be running around in reserves.
"But a game like that will do wonders for his confidence. And we're going to need him at some stage."
Quizzed on how himself, Reynolds and halfback Luke Brooks all fitted into one side, Marshall continued: "I don't know, you'd have to ask Madge that one.
"Personally, while I'm playing (at six), I'm just trying to do my job. And if I don't do that I know it'll open up an opportunity for Josh.
"But who is to say there isn't an opportunity for him to play on the bench if I start. Or vice versa.
"Whatever Madge thinks is best for the team.
"It's like last year … round one Josh was starting and I was on the bench. Then an opportunity came through injury.
"But in footy those sort of opportunities are coming up every week."
And as for his own form?
"I feel like I'm in a great space mentally and physically," Marshall continued. "And when those things are in order, it helps you to play well.
"So I'm just trying to do my job.
"Like against the Warriors, I didn't try to overplay my hand. I just did what I needed to do, was the composed one just keeping the team together with our game plan."
Speaking after Sunday's game, which included a standing ovation from the main grandstand, Reynolds revealed he also copped a few barbs from the club's faithful over on the hill.
"I was actually getting a spray from the other side, people saying I've gotta play first grade," Reynolds said. "And I can see where they're coming from.
"Last year I was injured. And now this year, I wasn't picked.
"I've come here expected to play good footy and I haven't done that. So If you look at it in that sense, they're right.
"And it burns me. Absolutely burns me.
"But I just have to strap my boots on every week and do the best I can. Hopefully the fans have seen that today.
"I'll just do my best so that when the opportunity comes, I'm ready."