TIGER sharpens CLAWS

8 Mar

Nice guy Benji in fight of his life

ONE WEEK before, Wests Tigers and New Zealand star Benji Marshall had been named the “face of rugby league” as the new NRL season loomed. He said at the time he wanted to be “the player that kids want to be when they grow up”.

He is now facing assault charges for allegedly punching a man in the mouth after suffering racial taunts but, unlike other footballers caught en flagrante in varying scenarios of boorish behaviour, public drunkenness or sexual peccadilloes, Marshall has overwhelming public support.

He had just hosted Footy Rocks, a fund-raising event in Sydney for the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia, and went out with some mates for a couple of beers (there is no suggestion he had over-indulged) and around 3am they were leaving a popular international “hamburger” chain (a less defendable pursuit) when he was confronted by a 24-year-old man.

As Marshall’s manager, Martin Tauber, recounts it, the footballer was racially abused by a group of eight to 10 people. “One of them started to shout at him and said, ‘Go back to New Zealand, you black c…’. He (Marshall) tried to walk away from him – he tried to make light of it and then the guy did it again.”

The 24-year-old reportedly sustained a small facial cut and reported the incident to police.

Reading a prepared statement following the incident and his arrest, Marshall thanked the West Tigers club and members of the public for their support. He refused to comment on the specifics of the case, other than to confirm he would fight the charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appears in court on 20 April.

“The last several days have obviously been very stressful for myself and my family particularly as they have resulted in me being charged by police. I have been advised by my lawyers that because I have been charged it is necessary now to allow the legal process to take its course. I can, however, confirm my intention to defend the charge. I also look forward to taking my place in the Wests Tigers team this weekend.”

The NRL authorities decided not to take any action for the time being, noting that there was no evidence that he had been drunk or brought the game into disrepute prior to the alleged incident, so it was purely a matter to be resolved by the courts.

For those unfamiliar with the 26-year-old’s skills, check out these two examples of his footballing wizardry.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply