Benji Marshall has “a lot of kilometres left in his legs” so he won’t be going anywhere any time soon, Dragons teammate Jason Nightingale says.
Nightingale has dismissed speculation the off-contract veteran playmaker will link with the English Super League or hang up the boots at season’s end.
Marshall’s former Kiwi teammate Nightingale believes the star pivot will be “playing on in the NRL” and just hopes it will be with the Dragons.
And the Dragons winger believes Marshall’s best is yet to come.
“He is only 30 now and plenty of halves play a lot longer than that so I think Benji has a lot of kilometres left in his legs,” he told the Dragons website.
“The way he carried himself (in 2015) was awesome so news of any retirement is speculation.
“I think he will improve more this season – I’m looking forward to seeing what he does.”
It is believed Marshall – 31 next month – wants to play on at the Dragons but the NRL club reportedly will gauge his early 2016 form before considering a one-year contract extension.
Marshall is on the comeback from ankle surgery as he prepares for his 14th NRL season.
His future at the Dragons may also be influenced by Cronulla gun pivot Jack Bird, who is yet to decide whether to link with St George Illawarra in 2017.
But Nightingale believed Marshall’s days at the Dragons weren’t numbered.
“I doubt that Benji will go to England and doubt that he is retiring as he’ll be playing on in the NRL and hopefully it’s with our club,” he said.
“There’s always going to be that sort of speculation when someone is off contract but Benji has definitely got a number of years left in him.”
Nightingale cheekily suggested Marshall’s ill-fated rugby sojourn in 2014 would help the veteran pivot extend his NRL career.
“Two years ago I think he had a cruisy year in rugby and came back and played the back half of the season so that will add to his longevity,” he said.
Marshall played his first full season with the Dragons in 2015 since returning from rugby, helping them reach the finals.
He injured his ankle in their 11-10 elimination finals loss to the Bulldogs.
“He was in the top five for try assists last season and for a team that didn’t score a lot of tries it’s a pretty good effort,” Nightingale said of Marshall’s 2015 efforts.