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Few in NRL rival Marshall's Tigers tale

Benji Marshall

Not everyone gets the fairytale.
Few in NRL rival Marshall's Tigers tale
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Sept 6 AAP - Not everyone gets the fairytale.

But departing Wests Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall might just get the last laugh.

Eight years after stunning the rugby league world with "that" inside pass in the NRL grand final, Marshall can break North Queensland hearts again with an exit to remember in Townsville on Saturday night.

The players retiring or leaving the NRL after this weekend all have tales to tell.

The combined 3064 games, almost 220km in ball carries and about 57,000 tackles by this year's 15 confirmed retirees hardly scratch the surface.

There are the hard luck stories like fullback Matt Bowen, whose knees finally sabotaged his 13-season stay at his beloved Cowboys.

There's the stirring comeback yarns like Brisbane five-eighth Scott Prince who overcame two knee reconstructions, a broken leg and the death of his father to carve out a glittering 300-game career.

And then there's the players who punched above their weight like lock Dallas Johnson to become one of the game's most punishing defenders.

But few rival Marshall's Tigers tale.

In what seemed inconceivable after their stunning 2005 title success over the Cowboys, Marshall fell out with the Wests Tigers faithful this year due to poor form - on and off the field.

There were even calls for Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter to drop Marshall before he posted his 200th NRL game last round after the playmaker surprisingly appeared via video message in a Blues jersey to announce his two year Super Rugby defection to the Auckland franchise.

Still no one is discounting a triumphant Marshall send-off this weekend - especially a Cowboys outfit still wondering what might have been since the livewire pivot single handedly broke open their 2005 decider.

And only Marshall would have the audacity to crash a party of the scale that North Queensland have planned for this weekend.

The Cowboys will snatch a last-gasp finals berth with a sixth straight win, ensuring they remain unbeaten since coach Neil Henry was told his services were no longer needed at season's end by the North Queensland board.

Then there's the Cowboys' favourite son Bowen.

The pint-sized North Queensland games record-holder, told he was no longer required, will run out in his final home match in what looms as an emotional night for the club.

Not that the Cowboys have a mortgage on drama-charged games in the NRL's regular-season finale.

Brisbane have laid an early claim after sending out veteran pivot Prince a winner in his 300th and final game on Thursday night.

The man who partnered Marshall in the halves during their 2005 triumph was instrumental in the Broncos' shock 16-11 win over finals-bound Canterbury.

Fittingly, his last act was to pot over a sideline conversion to secure a rare win in Brisbane's worst season to date.

And Prince might not be finished with the NRL just yet.

After recommending other retirees to keep busy, Prince hinted at returning as a club media manager after being accepted into a PR university course.

"I might liven you fellas up, get back at a few," Prince laughed.


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