Attacking force of nature: Benji's amazing career by the numbers

An all-time great has hung up the boots.

Benji Marshall has called time on a storied career that includes some astonishing numbers but perhaps more importantly a legacy that far outweighs anything that can be measured by statistics.

Marshall brought joy and excitement to a generation of young rugby league fans. The "Benji sidestep" and the "Benji flick pass" have been replicated countless times in backyards, schoolyards and junior rugby league fields over the past two decades.

One of the best players of the modern era and arguably the finest New Zealand player of all time, Marshall's off-field contributions measure up to his weighty impact on it.

But for all the intangibles, the raw numbers tell a staggering story of their own. has run the rule over Marshall's 19 seasons in the game.



Marshall played a handful of games while still at high school in 2003, before missing most of 2004 thanks to two separate shoulder dislocations.

He came of age in a stunning 2005 campaign, playing five-eighth alongside senior halfback Scott Prince.

With his running game to the fore, he helped guide his club to its first and as yet only premiership despite two further shoulder injuries bookending his year and ruling him out of international duty.

He put his mark on the grand final with a flick-pass for Pat Richards that still dominates highlight reels.

Two more shoulder injuries scuppered his 2006 season and shoulder and knee issues limited his 2007 campaign.


At that point, many felt Marshall's career could be headed for an early finish. The high-stepping, lightweight former high school prodigy simply seemed like his small frame would not handle the rigours of top-flight NRL for a long period.

But Marshall hardly missed a single game over the following five seasons, playing 22 or more games every year from 2009 to 2013 in a period that included a truly golden run (and one Golden Boot).

That Marshall emerged from that horror injury run to notch 346 NRL games (plus 31 Tests and four All Stars appearances) for 381 senior games is a feat of determination, toughness and resilience that cannot be overstated. His 346 games is eighth on the all-time list.


An attacking force
Marshall's ability to evolve from a livewire ball-running five-eighth into one of the great creative halves is another trait that can't be underestimated.

Forced to evolve his game to remain a force at the top level, Marshall did so impressively as his year-by-year numbers show.

That evolution continued all the way through to his final year with a move into a bench utility role.

There he would come on as a ball-playing lock for Souths and function almost as an additional half. At different stages, he also covered absences and injuries in the halves, at centre and at hooker. 

Marshall never again reached the heights of 2005 in terms of line breaks made, tries scored, offloads thrown and metres run per match.

But as he blossomed into a top-line controlling half, his kicking and passing games flourished. From 2009 to 2012 Marshall registered 106 try assists – 19 more than the next best Johnathan Thurston (87).

He finishes his career with 261 try assists, 770 tackle busts, 96 tries and 121 line breaks. In the era of detailed record-keeping (2003-present) of these stats, only Thurston (324) and Cooper Cronk (283) are credited with more try-assists.

And among just halves, only Thurston has more busts (806) and line-breaks (153) while only Cronk (101) has more tries.

A beautiful set of numbers befitting one of the modern game's great entertainers.


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Chris Kennedy, Reporter