Benji Marshall has hailed St George Illawarra’s “surreal” win over the Wests Tigers in his first game against his former club as his final farewell from the joint venture.
Much of the pre-game hype had revolved around the Dragons halfback taking on the side he left in emotional circumstances last year after 13 seasons, including the 2005 NRL premiership.
Marshall admitted there were moments during the Dragons’ 28-12 win on Sunday that he struggled with, before realised he was truly a Dragon now.
“It was pretty hard to prepare for it to be honest,” Marshall said
“I just tried to make it not about me this week, it was about the team needing the two points. There were times in the game where I was a little bit fazed out by the occasion but Gareth (Widdop) just took over and really stood up.
“There were just times in the game where it was a bit surreal, playing against the old club. You look across and see your mates who you played with for so long, I was just happy to get the two points.”
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said Marshall dealt with the occasion well.
“I’m comfortable with Benji. I’ve said that from day one and I’m still comfortable with Benji,” he said.
“I like the way he plays, I like the way he trains, I like the way he goes about his stuff.
“I’m very comfortable with where he was and I knew the emotion wouldn’t get hold of him because he’s a 200 game player, he’s played a lot of emotional games.”
Marshall revealed McGregor has emphasised the importance of the occasion to his Dragons teammates.
“He sort of said to the whole team that I’m one of them now, to look after me out there,” Marshall said.
“The boys did that. It wasn’t my best game but I just played a pretty basic role and Gareth brought the all-out flair.”