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Benji Marshall to play for Māori All Stars in 2021 NRL season-opener - report

Kiwi NRL veteran Benji Marshall is reportedly in line to join the Māori All Stars for this year’s pre-season exhibition match.

Source: 1 NEWS

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Marshall, 35, will line up against the Indigenous All Stars on February 20 with coach David Kidwell selecting him after he missed out initially through public voting.

It caps a remarkable turnaround for Marshall who two weeks ago was considering retirement with no NRL contract on the table but he has since signed a one-year contract with the Rabbitohs.

Marshall signalled to his new club he was keen to represent the Māori All Stars this year and was given the green light soon after.

However, it’s understood the Rabbitohs have advised Kidwell before the teams are selected later today that Marshall would only be fit enough to play 40 minutes, not the full game.

It means with 20-man playing squads and an unlimited interchange, Marshall could share the playmaking duties with Melbourne’s Jahrome Hughes, Penrith’s Jarome Luai or Manly’s Dylan Walker.

Souths CEO Blake Solly told NRL.com his club will always support players wanting to represent their culture.

"If the coaching and performance staff are happy he is fit to play, we would be happy for him to play," Solly said.

"The All Stars match is something the sport should be proud of, it celebrates two wonderful cultures and is extremely important to both the players and community."

Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley told the Sydney Morning Herald he hopes the report comes to fruition.

"If Benji is there, it will be great,” Daley said.

“The more high-profile players the teams can select the better - I think it would be tremendous." 

Marshall’s inclusion would be a significant boost for the All Stars match, which is expected to be played before a capacity crowd at Townsville's QCB Stadium.

Marshall’s brother, Bulldogs hooker Jeremy Marshall-King, is vying for the Māori dummy-half role with Storm and Kiwis star Brandon Smith.