Gareth Ellis - It would be great to see my old friend Benji Marshall go out on a World Cup high

IT was great to see Benji Marshall doing Benji Marshall things again over the weekend – and I would love to see him come over here with the Kiwis for the Rugby League World Cup at the end of the year.

Magic Man: Veteran NRL and Kiwi star Benji Marshall is still producing moments of magic. Picture: Steve McArthur / www.photosport.nz /SWpix.com

I have written before in this column about Benji and how he is the best player I ever played with. He was great with me at Wests Tigers.

He was all over Twitter on Friday again for that pass he produced for Alex Johnson’s try in South Sydney’s thrilling win over Gold Coast Titans.

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He is just unbelievably talented, gifted and the things he does look effortless at times. But that moment we saw the other day – he also scored twice and broke the line three times – is just the tip of the iceberg.

A lot of what you see in those moments is stuff that he practices out on the field; it’s not all just off the cuff.

But the thing is with players like Benji, normally they have a shelf life; because of what he does, as you get older your body does start to let you down at times, and you’d think the ability to still do those things would be very, very limited.

Yet Benji is 36 now and still doing it. It says plenty about him.

There’s very few players out there who have that raw ability plus that dogged determination to want to be the best that they can be for as long as he has. Benji is certainly one of those.

Simply the best: Gareth Ellis played with Benji Marshall at Wests Tigers in the NRL. Picture: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz /SWpix.com

In hindsight, I’m sure Wests will regret letting him go at the end of last year. Still, I’m sure some of Benji’s motivation is the fact that he did get told he wasn’t wanted by Wests and almost has a point to prove, which is always handy when you get a bit older.

From Wests’ point of view, it’s a tough situation to be in to know when someone has almost had their time and it seems they’ve probably got this one wrong.

They have done in the past as well; it’s not the first time they have disregarded players that have been so good for the club. It was the same with Robbie Farrah. It’s really disappointing given what Benji’s done and I’m sure given the opportunity he’d have loved to have stayed at Wests Tigers.

However, from Benji’s point of view I’m pretty sure he’ll be enjoying his rugby a bit more at Souths this year.

Whether it is his last year or not, it could be a great one; everyone is touting Souths to be there or thereabouts come Grand Final time.

It’d be a very fitting send-off; if it’s not to be at the Tigers, it’s probably just as good to do it somewhere else.

And as well as that, I do hope he is in the New Zealand squad and we get to see him over here one last time in the World Cup.

Having him around the squad and the leadership qualities he has, you’d be silly not to pick him as long as he’s fit. The way he’s playing, why wouldn’t you?

It’s probably down to Benji and whether he is going to play again next season or not is likely to have a bearing on that.

I’ve experienced that where I’ve benefited from having a rest and going again in pre-season.

There’s a lot to weigh up but, from a New Zealand point of view, I think it’d be silly to not at least ask the question given how good he could be both on the field and off it for the group.

In the meantime, it’s great watching such a brilliant player.

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