St George Illawarra star Benji Marshall has revealed he played for more than half an hour against Brisbane with vision in just one eye.
A stray finger from a Broncos player in the first half of the Dragons’ 12-10 win left the halfback with impaired vision and he paid tribute to the performance of halves partner Gareth Widdop who was forced to take control of the playmaking duties.
“In hindsight, I probably should have come off, but I expected it to come right sooner than it did,” Marshall told AAP.
“I’ve had a poke in the eye before, but I think this was more of a scratch. I was playing off feel there for a while.
“But the good side was Gareth took over and forced a couple of repeat sets to set the tone.
“I was calling the plays and set ups but I was the decoy on the short side. You just have to do what you have to do to help the team.
“Mary (Paul McGregor) gave me until 20 minutes of the second half and I probably told a few lies to say it was better than it was, but I just wanted to stay out there.”
The resurgence of the Dragons in recent weeks is a far cry from the side that laboured terribly in the first two rounds of the season.
A water-tight defence has conceded just 74 points in seven matches and Marshall said that resilience has been created by a close bond formed between a squad written off at the start of the year.
“It was tough win, our execution was poor at times but everyone kept turning up for each other and that is what builds a culture,” he said.
“It makes a win more pleasing when you defend your end like we did.
“Everyone has written us off apart from ourselves and everyone is buying in to what we’re all about.”
A late try from unheralded English prop Mike Cooper secured the win for the hosts and Marshall said the former Warrington man deserves a share of the praise usually handed out to the high-profile Burgess brothers and Canterbury skipper James Graham.
“He is massively under-rated,” Marshall said.
“He gives go go-forward but also has great footwork and he is developing in to one of the top front-rowers in the NRL.”