NRL 2021: Benji Marshall’s Rabbitohs impact lauded by league legend Johnathan Thurston

Coming off the bench, Marshall was at the heart of South Sydney’s near comeback win against the Melbourne Storm. 

Kiwis icon Benji Marshall's display against the Melbourne Storm has been heralded by fellow great Johnathan Thurston, having been the instigator in the South Sydney Rabbitohs' near come-from-behind win.

With the Rabbitohs down 22-0 towards the end of the first half of last night's NRL season opener, 36-year-old Marshall came off the bench - and made an immediate impression in his first NRL appearance for the Rabbitohs.

Coming on in the 31st minute, Marshall played a role in all three of the Rabbitohs' tries - instrumental in winger Alex Johnston's double, and fullback Latrell Mitchell's effort in the second half.

South Sydney's comeback came too late though, losing the season opener 26-18.

Speaking as part of the post-match broadcast though, Thurston made note of the role that Marshall played in nearly seeing the Rabbitohs claw their way back against the reigning premiers.

"Benji Marshall was the difference," Thurston says.

"I said earlier he didn't take the ball into the line too deep. He gave enough time for the players on the outside there to be able to run those plays, so no doubt he'll be there next week."

Thurston's sentiments were echoed by former Australian Jillaroos star Allana Ferguson, adding:

"What JT just touched on with Benji Marshall - he had that little bit of composure," Ferguson said.

"They know Melbourne Storm are going to be coming out of their line and firing and really aiming up in defence. But I thought it was brilliant the way Benji came on and really settled them down."

After coming off the bench, Marshall will have the chance to potentially start for the Rabbitohs next week, as South Sydney face the Manly Sea Eagles in round two next Saturday.