Benji Marshall still a chance for start with Cutters

Ian Kirk with the trophy named after his father Tom. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
Ian Kirk with the trophy named after his father Tom. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN


Cutters coach Ian Millward left the door open for Benji Marshall to be a late addition to his side to face Newtown on Saturday, but says the decision ultimately rests with Dragons coach Steve Price.

Marshall made a less than spectacular return to the NRL in his first match for the Dragons last week and this week's bye presented the opportunity for the former Tigers playmaker to sharpen his skills in the NSW Cup.

Marshall was not named in the Cutters side to face Newtown on Tuesday and Millward said he was happy to leave the decision on his availability to the head coach.

"That's something that's up to Steve and Benji," Millward said.

"We've got plenty of options there if he plays; if he doesn't there's plenty of blokes who'll seize that opportunity."

The Cutters will look to bounce back from a tough match with table-toppers Wentworthville last week in which they surrendered a 30-18 lead midway through the second half to go down 36-30.

A win would have taken the Cutters to the top of the NSW Cup ladder but Millward said his side learnt some lessons from the loss.

"We put ourselves in a lot of positions to win the game but through a lack of composure in attack and putting ourselves under a lot of pressure defensively, we let it get away," Millward said.

"I couldn't fault their attitude and their character so if we continue that, we'll do well."

Newtown sit 10th on the ladder with just three wins for the year but Millward expects the Jets to provide a formidable challenge.

"It's a tough league the NSW Cup. The scorelines haven't been a reflection of how tough it's been," Millward said.

"They might have started the season a little bit scratchy but they seem to be getting into a bit of a rhythm now.

"They had a really good away win against Wyong last week.

"We don't need to improve too much on last week, we just need to learn a couple of things."

The Cutters have the added incentive of retaining the Tom Kirk Cup in Saturday's fixture.

The trophy honours former Newtown great Tom Kirk, who was the first person to score 1000 career points in the NSW Rugby League.

Tom's son, Ian, a long-time rugby league administrator in the Illawarra, said it was an ongoing honour for his family.

"I've got to pay tribute to Bob Millward and the Illawarra Steelers board and the Newtown club for the honour," Kirk said.


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