Tigers icon axed in ‘mind-boggling’ call

Rugby league icon Benji Marshall has been brutally axed from the Wests Tigers’ team for their round five match against the Canberra Raiders.

As first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, co-captain Marshall has been relegated to the bench after the Tigers’ shock final-minute loss to the Gold Coast Titans on the weekend.

Former State of Origin star Josh Reynolds will replace the 33-year-old at five eighth and will partner Luke Brooks in the halves on Saturday.

Although Marshall is equal second in Dally M voting after round four, he will put on a No. 18 jersey this weekend.

Amazing that Maguire has dropped Benji Marshall. Reckon his two former clubs would love a halfback of his calibre right now.

DALLY M LEADERBOARD AFTER FOUR ROUNDS

Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys) — 7

Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers) — 6

Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels) — 6

Tom Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles) — 6

Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels) — 6

On Tuesday, Sydney Morning Herald reporter Michael Chammas tweeted: “Very happy for Josh Reynolds, but I don’t understand what Benji Marshall has done to deserve this. Mind-boggling.

“Has been Tigers’ best player for 12 months. One average game and he’s gone. Massive call from Maguire.”

Benji Marshall has scored 31 points this season.Source:AAP

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In total, Tigers coach Michael Maguire dropped five players from the side that faced the Titans in round four. Tommy Talau, Russell Packer, Michael Chee-Kam, Zane Musgrove and Reynolds are the other new faces in the Tigers’ side.

Maguire hinted there would be changes after Sunday’s “unacceptable” loss, in which Marshall kicked a field goal to put the Tigers ahead with three minutes remaining.

“That performance is unacceptable for where we’re at,” Maguire said.

“I’m sick and tired of the ups-and-downs of performance. We need to change that.

“If you can’t be hungry enough to win a game of football then you need to look in the mirror, and those are the sort of things we need to be honest about.

“We need to fix that. We need to fix it fast. I have seen a little bit of that over my period, and we all need to change that.”

West Tigers Round 5 team: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Moses Mbye 5. Tommy Talau 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Alex Twal 14. Thomas Mikaele 15. Russell Packer 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Alex Seyfarth 18. Benji Marshall 19. Luke Garner 20. Billy Walters 21. Corey Thompson

Benji Marshall and Josh Reynolds at a training session.Source:Getty Images

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Reynolds made seven appearances last season before he became embroiled in a domestic violence charge, which has since been dropped by police.

On Monday, the 31-year-old also made headlines after he recorded a false positive reading during a random alcohol and drugs test. He admitted to driving with an expired license, but a second test showed a negative sample.

After making his NRL debut in 2003, Marshall has played 245 first-grade games for the Tigers, the second-most in the club’s history. The New Zealander has scored 1118 points for the Tigers in 14 seasons, which is comfortably a club record.

Marshall briefly shifted to Super Rugby after he was benched by former coach Mick Potter in 2013.

Having won two of their opening four matches, the Tigers will face the Raiders at Campbelltown Stadium at 7:35pm (AEST) on Saturday.

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