Joey to help Benji make halfback switch - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Joey to help Benji make halfback switch

By Liam Fitzgibbon 09/07/2008 01:54:31 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall is set to make a permanent switch to halfback next NRL season under the tuition of a champion No.7 such as Andrew Johns or Stacey Jones.

Tigers coach Tim Sheens has spoken of his desire to switch the Kiwi five-eighth to halfback once he fully regains his form and confidence following off-season shoulder surgery and an early-season knee injury.

And Marshall could be playing alongside Chris Lawrence in the halves, with Sheens saying he can see the teenage centre making a switch to five-eighth as soon as next season.

Sheens resisted the temptation to switch Marshall to halfback for Monday's NRL clash with Melbourne, despite Mathew Head being ruled out through injury, saying a mid-season switch would not do him any favours.

"I like the idea of him as a seven but you need time to make that transition happen, you just don't drop him straight in," Sheens told AAP.

"Particularly at the moment when he's trying to regain confidence.

"I see him as a good option for that position for us down the track, he could play there easy.

"But he needs schooling and a lot of work and we'd like to see him get through this year without any problems and, as he overcomes that and gets through the end of the year and has a good off-season, I think the kid can do anything."

Sheens said he planned to enlist the services of one of the game's great halfbacks to help Marshall make the transition.

"I'd want to get a specialist halfback to come in and do some work with him," Sheens said.

"There's Stacey Jones and Joey Johns, that sort of player, there's a few offering their services."

Sheens said Lawrence fitted the mould of the perfect modern five-eighth.

Lawrence burst onto the scene last year, scoring 16 tries in the centres in just 18 appearances, but the coach is also reluctant to attempt a mid-season switch with the 19-year-old.

"I think Chris Lawrence would make a very good five-eighth in the style of today's five eighths ... the likes of Feleti Mateo, John Sutton, Greg Bird ... the more running type," Sheens said.

"He's a strong running player and there's the theory of your better players getting the ball in their hands a lot more.

"But again I wouldn't do that to a 19-year-old at this stage of the season.

"I'm not in a hurry ... but I think this time next year, don't be surprised if he is closer to there."

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