RUGBY LEAGUE - DRAGONS
Benji Marshall always knew that Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses were going to be superstars, but he never thought the same whiz-kids that he helped mould into first graders could conspire to cause a major blow to his own finals hopes.
That's the exact scenario on Sunday when the boom rookies take on Marshall and English international Gareth Widdop in a showdown that could shape the play-off contenders.
Brooks has earned rave reviews in his debut NRL season, while Moses had a breakout man-of-the-match performance in the Tigers' 46-18 demolition job on the Bulldogs last week.
Both have credited Marshall for playing a mentoring role as they came through the Tigers junior ranks.
Wests are just one win ahead of the Dragons on the ladder and Marshall isn't expecting any favours from his former proteges, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Put it this way, I pride myself on passing on whatever I know to help out the young guys. That's what it's about," Marshall said.
"I knew they were talented and were going to be stars. I just wanted to try to help wherever I can.
"That's no different to what I am doing here [at the Dragons] - just passing on what I can."
Marshall said he felt a particular affinity with Brooks who, in his debut NRL season, is carrying the same "next big thing" tag that weighed so heavily on him in the early stages of his career.
"I feel a little bit sorry for Brooksy, to be honest. Before I left there was a lot of pressure being placed on him to be the next Joey (Andrew Johns), which is a big call because Joey is an Immortal and probably the greatest player of all time," Marshall said.
"He doesn't need that. He is a kid who is in his first season of first grade who is performing pretty good.
"You just don't need those raps. Sure he might end up being the next Joey but for now he doesn't need to be."
Marshall admits he doesn't know what to expect from the Tigers faithful when he runs out at ANZ Stadium after a less than amicable split from the club last year.
"Whatever happens, happens. I know there is a lot of emotion in sport and people get a little bit filthy on players who leave clubs, but I am not the first person to leave the club and I won't be the last person to leave the club," he said.
"I know it's going to be played up but that's not what it is for me.
"It's about putting my best foot forward to get a win for the team because we're desperate and we need it to be in the top eight. That's my priority."