Not like this. Not like this.
Benji Marshall’s fairytale farewell from the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval has been shut down by the NRL.
The Wests Tigers confirmed on Thursday afternoon its plans to relocate its Round 20 home game to the iconic suburban venue has been pulled because of the league’s biosecurity fears.
The club statement revealed the plan was derailed because Leichhardt Oval would have been double booked with earlier junior league grand finals. on the same day.
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Under advice from the NRL’s health experts, the league stopped the plan because it was impossible for the Tigers to transform the venue from local football oval to NRL venue in the space of a few hours.
“Both grounds are scheduled to host junior league Grand Finals on the weekend of Round 20, with biosecurity experts advising that there would be insufficient time to transform either ground from a junior league football venue to the standards required to meet the Apollo Protocols in time for the 7:30pm kick off,” the club statement claimed.
“With Junior League Grand Final Day scheduled on this date, Wests Tigers saw this as a potential opportunity for our club to showcase rugby league and connect with our Junior League clubs. With this in mind — and under the current strict biosecurity measures implemented by the NRL — the club was unable to get this initiative approved based on the increased level of high-risk for all involved.”
Benji won’t be coming back.Source:Getty Images
According to reports last week the Tigers were prepared to shift their Round 20 home game against the Eels at Bankwest Stadium to Leichhardt Oval — giving up around $100,000 in potential revenue.
However, the NRL stepped in to shut the plan down.
The NRL’s strict COVID-19 protocols mean that just 7,500 fans are allowed to attend matches at Bankwest Stadium, while at Leichhardt Oval that number slips to just 3,200.
Marshall said last month he was less than pleased to have discovered he was no longer wanted at the club through news reports.
“If anything I was a bit disappointed the way I found out, reading it in the paper. That was a little bit disappointing for me,” Marshall said on Fox League’s NRL360.
“I had a good chat with the coach; he laid out where I stood. I appreciated the honesty, I can finish the season and then both parties will move on. It was pretty normal (the chat with Maguire).
“That is one of the best things I’ve had under Michael is that he’s always been honest with me.
“When you hear about not being wanted through other sources that are not the coach or the club you want to find out if it’s true or not, so I went in there and asked if it’s true or not. He asked for 24 hours to give me an answer, and the answer came back I won’t be required.”
A club statement released on Tuesday afternoon confirmed the split with Marshall as the Tigers look towards the future.
Benji Marshall and the Tigers are finally going their own ways.Source:Getty Images
“As a club, we were thrilled to welcome Benji back to Wests Tigers in 2018 and to see him return in a leadership role in this part of his career,” said Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe.
“Over the past two-and-a-half years, Benji has performed as we knew he would on field but the reality with our roster management is that he will not be with Wests Tigers next year.
“Decisions around our playing roster are incredibly difficult ones to make, and this decision is not made lightly with the absolute respect this club has for Benji Marshall.
“While difficult, however, it is a decision that has been made as part of our constant roster management responsibilities in order to ensure clarity and certainty for our organisation moving forward.
“Whatever Benji chooses to do in 2021 — whether that is playing football or not — will be up to him and I have no doubt he will be a success.
“He is a terrific player and person and will unequivocally have the full admiration and respect of this organisation in whatever he does next in life.”
Marshall said in August he is still keen to play on again next season and has sought advice from legendary coach Wayne Bennett.
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