Outstanding youngster Benji Marshall in action with the Wests Tigers during an NRL match earlier this year. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Outstanding youngster Benji Marshall in action with the Wests Tigers during an NRL match earlier this year. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Last-ditch bid

By MITCHELL DALE

WESTS Tigers whiz kid Benji Marshall has launched a last-ditch bid to represent New Zealand at this year's rugby league Tri-Nations, despite being sidelined since round 13. Marshall, dubbed a potential superstar by most pundits, went under the surgeon's knife in June after dislocating his left shoulder for the second time during the Tigers' 30-24 loss to Melbourne Storm. But the 19-year-old is hoping to be a shock inclusion in the Kiwis squad, despite being overlooked for the original train-on squad. "If I am fit enough I would love to play," Marshall said while at Coffs Harbour to help launch the Australian Touch Association National Under-18s championships. "I have had a chat to them (New Zealand selectors) and my shoulder feels great. "I was given a clearance by my surgeon last week, but it will all depend on my fitness, I would be about 50-50 at this stage." Persistent rumours suggested Marshall was set to leave the Tigers next season, but the hot-stepping five-eighth confirmed he recently re-signed with the club. He also reckons the Tigers are finals bound next year. "I am happy to be staying at the club," he said. "The average age of our bench this year would have been about 20, so we have a very young side and we will only get better. "We will definitely be a semi-final side next year, if we don't make the top eight we're kidding ourselves." Marshall admitted it was difficult to watch the Tigers squander three consecutive chances at qualifying for their maiden finals berth late this season. "Those three games were the hardest to sit out, especially knowing I could have made a difference to the team," he said. "A couple of the boys were retiring at the end of the year and I would have liked to be out there with them and help." "Being injured is always frustrating, but that stuff happens in football."



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