NRL kickers need more protection: Benji

Benji Marshall has called upon the NRL to better protect vulnerable kickers ahead of the 2016 season.

The game’s governing body came under increased pressure throughout last season for the lack of protection offered to playmakers.

Marshall said it remains an issue ahead of next year, especially when players kicking the ball are targeted illegally by opposition defences.

“As kickers when you are in the air it is a pretty vulnerable position” the St George Illawarra five-eighth said.

“It is something you can’t control, so that is probably the biggest rule I want to see changed is attacking the kicker in the air.”

Marshall’s 2015 was ended in controversial fashion due to an ankle injury courtesy of a dubious tackle from Canterbury’s Greg Eastwood in the Bulldogs’ elimination final victory.

“I have watched it a few times, it’s not very nice is it, probably something that will be stamped out of the game,” Marshall said.

“At the time I didn’t think anything of it but looking back we probably shouldn’t allow those types of tackles any more.

“I am pretty sure he has been warned about it that we can’t have that in the game any more. The wrapping the arms around someone and the twisting over that is probably the big part.

“To me no (it wasn’t unintentional), that is probably the first time.

“They have made it a rule now you can’t do that anymore no judo throws like that anymore.”

Marshall said Eastwood had apologized to him over the tackle.

The 30-year-old is off contract at the end of 2016 with the Dragons and said he hoped to continue in the NRL beyond next season.

He appears out of favour with New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney but Marshall said he would continue to make himself available for Kiwi selection.

After undergoing ankle surgery Marshall won’t start full pre-season training until the New Year. But the former Wests Tigers premiership winner said he would be fit for round one.

“I had surgery on my ankle, a bit of cartilage taken out, so it has been a slow process. I haven’t started running yet,” he said.

“It won’t be full running for another two or three weeks and I won’t push it until after Christmas But is should be sweet by hopefully the Charity Shield, maybe the Nines.”

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