Benji Bags the Boot
New Zealand Test captain and Wests Tigers star five-eighth Benji Marshall, 25, has won the 21 Rugby League Golden Boot Award. Now in its 25th year, the prestigious award is presented to the game’s greatest international player. Whakatane-born Marshall beat fellow nominees Shaun Kenny Dowall (New Zealand), Paul Gallen (Australia), James Graham (England), Billy Slater (Australia) and Sam Thaiday (Australia). “To win this award, after coming back from three shoulder reconstructions, winning the Four Nations and having my best ever year since I’ve started in the NRL, is pretty overwhelming,” Marshall said. In announcing the winner, Rugby League World magazine editor John Drake declared Marshall a dominant victor. “Benji’s match-winning performance in the biggest game of the season, the Four Nations final against Australia, proved his undoubted class.” Marshall is contracted to the Tigers until the end of the 215 season.