Farewell: Benji Marshall announces NRL retirement

It's the end of an era.

One of the most exciting NRL players of the last 20 years announced his retirement today.

Benji Marshall, who is probably still the most iconic player to wear the Wests Tigers jersey and remains beloved in Macarthur, announced he was hanging up his boots almost two decades after his debut season in 2003.

Marshall finished his playing career with a grand final appearance for the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the weekend.

The 36-year-old made the announcement alongside final coach Wayne Bennett this afternoon, his young son in tow.

"I started off my journey in rugby league as a small boy from Whakatane chasing my dream, and I'll leave this game as a grown man who learned a lot of life lessons and I think turned into a pretty good person," an emotional Marshall said at the press conference.

"I feel privileged and honoured with what the game has given me... 19 seasons in the NRL.

"I'd like to make mention of the Wests Tigers where I'm a life member. I spent the majority of my rugby league life playing with the Wests Tigers and I won a competition in 2005, something I'll never forget.

"[The Tigers fans remain probably] my greatest fans, people who followed my throughout my career and gave me a great opportunity.

"The thing I'm most proud of is what I got told this morning... I set a pathway for my family to follow which was different from the normal back home. I gave them something to aspire to, something to chase. If I could live my dream, they could live their dreams."

He said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family and had agreed to a two-year media contract with Fox Sports.

"From a flashy young kid doing all this weird stuff to a man who's been given this opportunity I feel really lucky," Marshall said.

"I didn't want to miss this opportunity to say thank you to all the fans.

"You're the best fans in the world. I'll be forever grateful for this opportunity."

He joked that now was the "right time" to hang up the boots as there was "a lot of good stuff being said about me".

Marshall said he wanted to enjoy this moment and "celebrate what I've been able to achieve in my career".

Benji burst onto the scene in the early-2000s and captured the imaginations of kids and adults alike.

Kids loved his character and his colourful boots, and every junior footy match bore the signs of young fans practising the famous 'Benji step'.

Adults loved the Kiwi international's spontaneity and free-flowing play.

Few Wests Tigers - or rugby league - fans will forget Marshall's unbelievable no-look pass in the 2005 grand final, a moment forever etched into NRL history.

After leaving the NRL to pursue his dream of playing rugby union in his home country, Marshall returned to the NRL and bounced around at the St George Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos before returning home to the orange, black and white.

Sadly he couldn't finish his career with the Wests Tigers, the club decided to part ways with the life member at the end of 2020. He then rejoined former Broncos coach Bennett at Souths.

This story Farewell: Benji Marshall announces NRL retirement first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.