Marshall endorses Penrith’s ‘Baby Benji’

Benji Marshall believes Penrith whiz kid Te Maire Martin could be anything.

Martin is the talk of the NRL after following his match-winning heroics on debut in the Panthers’ thrilling one-point triumph over Brisbane last Saturday night.

Dubbed Baby Benji after coming through the same schoolboy system as Marshall before being snapped up by Wests Tigers and then nabbed by Penrith, Martin almost scored with his first touch before inevitably bagging his maiden top-grade try and then slotting the winning field goal.

“They probably don’t get much better than that,” Marshall marvelled on Fox Sports’ NRL 360.

“He was probably playing a bit reserved in that game too because he’s got a lot more tricks up his sleeve.”

Like Marshall, Martin is a product of the Keebra Park High School, the renowned rugby league nursery on Queensland’s Gold Coast, and played with the former New Zealand captain’s younger brother in the under-20s at the Tigers.

Marshall, an ex-Golden Boot winner, Dally M Medallist and Tigers grand final hero, says the 20-year-old five-eighth has it all and will only get better as he matures physically.

“His attack is certainly the brightest aspect of his game,” Marshall said.

“I watched him come through the Tigers system in the under-20s and from the time he came in he was just phenomenal.

“He’s got great footwork, a great ability to see the game and you can see by his body shape that he’s got a lot of growing to do.

“As a half, seeing a young half come in and have that impact on a first-grade game first-up is pretty impressive.”

With James Segeyaro sidelined with a broken arm, Penrith coach Anthony Griffin opted to move veteran five-eighth Peter Wallace to hooker and blood Martin against the Broncos.

Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis believes Wallace should stay put to allow the young playmaker to continue starting, including this weekend against Marshall’s St George Illawarra.

“It might be a little left off centre (but) Peter Wallace’s job that he’s doing at dummy-half at the Panthers is exactly what their forward pack needs,” Ennis added on NRL 360.

“He’s really steady through the middle. He’s a real calming influence.

“I’d almost be happy to see him starting at dummy-half and Segeyaro coming off the bench as that 60-minute impact player, 50-minute impact player, which he was phenomenal at for a period of time there whether it was at the Cowboys or when he first got to Penrith.

“Especially with the way the interchange has gone, put (Jamie) Soward in there at halfback with his direction with his kicking game and let the young kid play like (Anthony) Milford does at Brisbane.”

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