IF YOU haven’t seen the Benji Marshall NRL highlights reel that’s been doing the rounds this week then please, please, please take a look.
Wow. Wow. Wow. Like many people, I had forgotten just how good the majestic Kiwi stand-off was in his pomp. So often unplayable, in fact.
The six-minute nine second package is full of dazzling sidesteps, mesmerising flick passes, surging breaks, that trademark mid-air skip that fooled defences time after time and a few magic no-look passes thrown in for good measure as well.
At times, you have to replay it and slow the footage down to not only see what he actually does but how he does it as well. Yet all of the time, he looks like he’s just messing around in the park, not a care in the world. Watch it. It will bring joy to your life.
Pleasingly, even at 33, there’s still flashes of the old brilliance today with Marshall – back at his first love Wests Tigers for the first time since 2013 – enjoying a real revival. One of those who commented on Twitter when the NRL sent out the clip was Gareth Ellis, the ex-Great Britain second-row and now Hull FC football manager whose four seasons in Australian rugby league were all spent playing alongside the mercurial maestro at Wests.
Ellis, a modern great himself, simply wrote ‘Best I’ve played with.’ Quite a few others have said the same, too.
At six foot two inches and 19 stone, Bienek is already a huge speciman, illustrated by the manner in which he brutally swats off or tramples over would-be defenders, barging his way through befuddled Championship opponents with ease.Dave Craven
However, by the end of this week, there was another highlights reel gathering momentum all of its own, too. It is a player at the other end of the scale in more ways than one while Ellis has more than a passing interest in it as well. Unlike Marshall, at only 19 years old, London Broncos’ Lewis Bienek is essentially just starting out his rugby league career and, again, unlike Marshall, he is a prop more known for his raw power than subtle skills.
However, what raw power he possesses. Ellis comes into the equation as he has brokered the deal that saw Hull beat off numerous Super League rivals to capture Bienek’s signature in a transfer that was announced on Wednesday.
FC quickly sent out a collaboration of his best clips and it was fascinating viewing.
Almost immediately, all those Black and Whites fans thinking Lee Radford had gone mad selling prop Liam Watts to Castleford Tigers the previous week were suddenly at ease with life again.
At six foot two inches and 19 stone, Bienek is already a huge specimen, illustrated by the manner in which he brutally swats off or tramples over would-be defenders, barging his way through befuddled Championship opponents with ease.
On first viewing, as not one, not two, not three but four tacklers are thrown off in a heap, you almost think it is a spoof video. But this is for real. It looks like men against boys but it’s a giant (teenage) boy against helpless men.
It will be intriguing to see how Bienek develops but undoubtedly the East Yorkshire club have a special talent on their hands.
With former prop Radford as his boss, Ellis overseeing things and the likes of England front-row Scott Taylor and Mickey Paea at the KCOM Stadium, you feel he is in right place to hone his skills and make the most of that talent.
Bienek has signed a three-and-a-half year deal but immediately rejoined unbeaten Championship leaders London for the rest of the season on loan.
Their ex-Hull hooker James Cunningham Tweeted: “Some signing there for you FC fans the fella skittles props for fun.”
He isn’t joking, either.