Benji Marshall desperate to recapture magic for Dragons

Benji Marshall( right) and Jason Nightingale.

Benji Marshall( right) and Jason Nightingale.

RUGBY LEAGUE - DRAGONS

Benji Marshall admits he still covets the big stage.

His hit-and-miss form since joining St George Illawarra has told some of the Dragons' tale this season, but with the team hurtling into must-win territory Marshall believes he can still seize the moment, as in the glory days of old.

In his younger days at the Tigers, with the no-look flick passes and breathtaking sidestep, Marshall built a career on backing himself.

"I feel like I thrive in that sort of environment. I think it always makes you step up to be better, so absolutely I'd love to be a part of the finals," he said.

"But we've got to do a job on Penrith this week. Realistically, if we lose this week it's going to be very hard to make the semis."

Glimmers of his magic touch shone through in his brilliant solo try against the Roosters last Saturday. And as the Dragons mount a last-gasp finals charge, the former Kiwi Test captain feels he's starting to recapture the confidence that was once his trademark.

"I've always been a really confident sort of person but coming back this time I've probably been down a bit and haven't backed myself enough," Marshall said.

"I was probably forced into running there [against the Roosters], which goes to show it's there - I just need to trust myself a bit more," Marshall said.

"When I came back to the game I was in a position where I was unsure how it was going to go and whether I was going to enjoy it as much as I did before, but I'm happy.

"I'm enjoying it more than I ever have and that's always been important for me."

While he inevitably brings attacking flair, Marshall said the the subtleties of working in tandem with Gareth Widdop will be the real key to his NRL second coming after being forced to shoulder the bulk of the playmaking load alone in his decade-long career at the Tigers.

"I had 11 or 12 halves partners over the course of four years [at the Tigers], which does make it hard," he said. "When I finally got settled with Rob Lui that changed pretty quickly as well.

"The good thing about now is that Gareth is such a world class player and I feel like I can trust him and we trust each other. That trust helps and I don't feel like I need to do everything.

"I probably used to take the ball too much but now I've got a guy on the other side of the field who can do just as much damage.

"It's not just a matter of just demanding the ball, it's about being smarter and probably growing up a bit as well. I think I'm a little bit less selfish.

"Against the Tigers he had a hot hand, so I just let him take the ball all the time and he killed it. But there's been games like the Sharks where I was firing and he just let me take it."

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