Benji Marshall’s rugby league lifeline has been confirmed, inking a one-year deal with South Sydney that will take his NRL career into a 19th season.
The Rabbitohs confirmed on Friday that Marshall would link with the club, less than a month shy of his 36th birthday.
It will again make Marshall the oldest player in the NRL, after his career looked almost certain to be over after being tapped by the Wests Tigers last year.
“I have a lot of gratitude to get the opportunity to play again in the NRL,” Marshall said.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, I was that excited. It felt like it was the first day at school.
“It’s an opportunity for me to not only play, but to go out winning a competition.
“With this squad here, the coaches, it’s a great opportunity for that and that’s my goal.”
It’s believed Souths had offered Marshall the deal earlier this week, but the club had been awaiting approval from the NRL which has now come.
He will likely be back-up to Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds, particularly if Walker keeps his NSW State of Origin spot for 2021.
It is the second time Marshall’s career has been saved by coach Wayne Bennett, proving his status as the ultimate survivor after 324 games.
His football future looked shot when let go by St George Illawarra at the end of 2016, before a call to Bennett saw him join Brisbane as back up.
He played 13 games for him that season – with seven of them off the bench – before returning to the Tigers.
The 31-Test veteran for New Zealand was then able to earn a return to the Tigers, before a plethora of halves saw him cut at the end of last year.
“He is a leader of men, he has been playing at the highest levels of the game over a long and distinguished career,” Souths head of football Mark Ellison said.
“He comes with the highest of recommendations from Wayne (Bennett), he will provide great support to the experienced halves pairing we have.
“And his experience and knowledge that he can pass down to the young up-and-coming halves we have at the club will be priceless.”