Benji Marshall’s week went from bad to worse when he was involved in a bizarre social-distancing breach involving a kiss on the cheek in the Wests Tigers club carpark.
Club legend Marshall was the obvious centre of media attention at training on Wednesday after his shock axing from coach Michael Maguire’s Wests Tigers team to face Canberra on Saturday.
However, the veteran five-eighth was later sent home to self isolate after approaching Seven News reporter Michelle Bishop and exchanging a friendly hug and kiss on the cheek in the car park.
Under the NRL’s strict bio-security rules Marshall will remain at home on Thursday while the reporter undergoes a Covid-19 test and the matter was reported to the NRL.
“Just goes to show you, we can all get caught up in life and forget what kind of world we are living in at the moment,” Bushop tweeted.
“Off to be tested #innocent #awkward #apologies”
Meanwhile, halfback Luke Brooks says the entire Wests Tigers squad is on notice after former world player of the year Marshall’s surprise demotion from the team following the weekend’s loss to Gold Coast.
“Especially with someone of his name to be dropped, that just shows no one’s position is safe if we’re not playing good enough footy,” said Brooks.
“There’s a whole other reserve grade team who are training really well at the moment and who are ready to come in to the side.”
Even at 35, Marshall is running second in the Dally M Medal count after four rounds of the competition.
“He’s definitely playing some good footy,” Brooks said.
“I thought he was one of our best players last week against the Sharks but obviously as a whole our team wasn’t good enough against the Titans. I guess he’s taken the brunt of that.”
Brooks was less surprised to see Marshall take his demotion on the chin, the former New Zealand Test captain vowing to fight his way back into the starting line-up.
“He came in to training today and he was really leading the way,” Brooks said.
“So he’s not that sort of player who will sulk around.
“He got on with his job and it’s a long season and you never know what can happen in rugby league. You could be back in the side next week.”
Marshall, who has made way for Josh Reynolds, was one of six players axed and Brooks accepts he too must lift his game.
“On the weekend I didn’t play my best footy,” he said.
“My kicking game wasn’t where it needed to be and that put us under a lot of pressure.
“So I’ll take ownership on that and I’ve got to fix that and worry about my game first and, if I do that, it helps the team.”
The Tigers host another smarting side in Canberra – who suffered their first defeat of the season last start against Newcastle – at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday night.