If Benji Marshall says goodbye on Sunday, it’s not because his body has forced him to.
The off-contract St George Illawarra star has hit back at claims his time in the NRL is up, saying he’s come back from worse things than a chronic hamstring injury.
Controversially dropped for the first time in his career last week, Marshall has been handed a farewell for the Dragons in Sunday’s final round game against Newcastle.
And while he has previously hinted at calling stumps on his decorated career, he still won’t be treating the Knights game as his rugby league swansong.
“I still have a burning desire within to play. I’d love to play on and I’m still working on that,” Marshall said on Wednesday.
“If that doesn’t happen, I’ve been fortunate enough to do a few jobs along the way that will put me in good stead in life after football where other blokes don’t have the same opportunities.
“I’m blessed in that sense.”
A runner-up to Johnathan Thurston in the Dally M last year, Marshall’s 2016 campaign has been plagued by a chronic hamstring injury that stopped him playing more than four games in a row before July.
But he is angered by the idea his body is breaking down.
“I’m 31, I’m not 35,” he said.
“There is still blokes running around at 35 so all this talk about me being too old is bullshit to me. Anyone who knows me, knows what’s affected me this year has been the hamstring.
“But I know I can come back from it, I’ve come back from way worse.”
Marshall will depart Wollongong with 53 games in the Red V, who threw the Wests Tigers 2005 premiership-winner a lifeline following his failed stint in rugby union in 2014.
He said Sunday’s game would be emotionally tough.
“I spent two-and-a-half years here it’s been some of the best fun I’ve had. Coming back to rugby league, I couldn’t have picked a better bunch of dudes,” he said.