Robbie Farah (left) and Benji Marshall of the Wests Tigers. Picture: AAP
Robbie Farah (left) and Benji Marshall of the Wests Tigers. Picture: AAP

NRL’s insult to Wests Tigers legends

Benji Marshall has done more for rugby league than most players in the game's history, let alone this generation.

Throughout his illustrious career, Marshall has been one of the game's biggest drawcards - and the amount of fans he has brought to the sport just to watch his magic would have made millions upon millions in revenue in Australia and New Zealand.

Throughout it all, Benji never embarrassed himself on or off the field, and was pretty much the instigator of a Kiwi revolution. But apparently that still does not qualify Benji for an end-of-season testimonial.

And under the NRL's ridiculous guidelines, Robbie Farah won't be getting one, either.

In their glorious wisdom, the NRL has told the two Tigers champions that they don't meet the same criteria that was afforded to Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and, somewhat reluctantly, John Sutton.

Talk about rules for some and rules for others. Get this. The reason is because Marshall and Farah have not played their entire careers at one club.

We all know they were forced out back when the Tigers were going through some difficult years.

But Benji has still played 225 NRL games for the Tigers (292 all up) and meets every other criteria, while Farah has 263 Tigers games (289 all up) and meets all other guidelines.

The NRL is forgetting JT played the early part of his career at Canterbury. And while Thurston and Smith were on $1 million contracts, this year Marshall is playing for $170,000 and Farah is on $190,000, not much above minimum NRL wage.

The NRL will say it has been given the green light to have a testimonial dinner but what about the fans who might also want to celebrate what should be such a wonderful occasion? It is rubbish and let's hope it is not too late to overturn.



Talk about a rugby league resurrection.

Canterbury can bag Des Hasler all they want. But after seven rounds, what can't be disputed is that when it comes to pure football coaching, Hasler can still hold his own against the best of them.

While it looked as though Hasler would struggle to get another job after getting sacked by the Bulldogs, the so-called mad scientist is again Manly's messiah heading into Saturday's clash against his former club.

If the Dally M Coach of the Year award was being voted on right now, it would be hard to go past what Hasler has done with a team many tipped to be challenging the Bulldogs for this year's wooden spoon.

Sitting sixth with Tom Trbojevic sidelined and missing Dylan Walker through the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy, Manly were also without Addin Fonau-Blake last week and lost skipper Daly Cherry-Evans midway through the second half. Yet they still managed to come back and knock over Canberra.

That came on the back of a controversial loss to St George Illawarra and before that, the understrength Sea Eagles put the cleaners through Newcastle.


Artwork: Scott “Boo” Bailey.
Artwork: Scott “Boo” Bailey.


That had followed handing South Sydney their only loss of the season and flogging the Warriors the previous week.

While Manly still have the worst facilities in the NRL and a home ground that no other team wants to play at, Hasler is back in his element turning Lottoland into his own field of dreams.

The Bulldogs have made plenty of noise about how it is going to take them years to recover from the salary cap turmoil Hasler left behind. Yet not once this season have I heard Hasler complain about what he took over.

And with due respect to some of the players at Hasler's disposal, many would be flat out making the grade at rivals clubs.

But that hasn't stopped Hasler finding a way to unlock their talent and fill them with hope that playing finals football this year is not beyond them.