Emotional Benji Marshall confirms retirement from NRL

Benji Marshall has announced his retirement from the NRL, ending one of the game’s most glamorous careers after 19 seasons.

An emotional Marshall confirmed he had played his last game at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, alongside South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett and CEO Blake Solly.

The NRL great had been contemplating his future in the lead-up to Sunday’s grand final loss to Penrith.

With the Rabbitohs’ season over, the 36-year-old has decided to call time on a career at 346 games.

“I started off my journey in rugby league as a small boy from Whakatane chasing a dream,” a teary Marshall said.

“I’ll leave this game as a man who has learned a lot of lessons. Nineteen seasons in the NRL is more than half the length of my life.”

Marshall shot to fame in his early days at Wests Tigers, with his flick pass for Pat Richards in the 2005 decider one of the most famous grand final moments.

He staved off retirement twice, linking with Bennett at Brisbane in 2017 after being released by St George Illawarra, and again with the coach at Souths this year.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said Marshall’s legacy would be long lasting.

“Benji inspired a generation,” he said. “Kids wanted to play rugby league to be just like Benji Marshall. Not only was he a brilliant player with unique talent but his charismatic personality attracted fans to him.

“Few players have had an impact on the game quite like Benji did.

“Not only did Benji reach the pinnacle of our sport, he was also a fine ambassador for the game and a leader in every squad he was part of. On behalf of the Commission, I wish Benji every success in the next chapter of his life.”

Marshall’s career also included 31 Tests for New Zealand, as well as the Golden Boot award for best player in the world in 2010.