Too early to judge Benji, says Orford - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Too early to judge Benji, says Orford

By Todd Balym 11/04/2009 12:18:50 PM Comments (0)

Reigning Dally M medal winner Matt Orford says you can't judge the success of Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall's transition to halfback after just four NRL rounds.

Marshall's move from five-eighth to halfback has been the big positional change as the Tigers look to end a three-year finals drought in 2009.

The 24-year-old was first criticised and then highly praised in his first month wearing the No.7 jumper but Manly halfback Orford said the Kiwi international should not worry about any opinions until the season is out.

According to Orford, it is only after a full year in the halfback hotseat that anyone can truly judge whether Marshall will become a genuine No.7.

"It takes a long while to master the halfback position," said Orford.

"The season is long and it's all about being consistent.

"A lot of people can praise you after having one good game.

"But being halfback you need to do it for close to 26 rounds.

"It's a tough position, when you're not winning you get all the flak and when you are winning you get all the praises.

"He just needs to learn to deal with that and work through it."

Even after a decade of first grade Orford is still working on getting the consistency into his game after a disappointing performance in the loss to Newcastle last Sunday.

"I'm a very harsh critic, probably my harshest, and I will get back out on the paddock and I won't kick stones and put the head down," he said.

"I will redeem myself this weekend and go out and play my best football."

Orford and Marshall's halfback battle is just one of many intriguing clashes when their two sides meet at Brookvale Oval on Sunday.

The Sea Eagles are winless after four games while the Tigers have two wins - but have yet to put together back-to-back victories.

Of course the most publicised aspect of the game will be the return of Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart who is playing his first NRL game of the year after a four-week suspension for breaching the code of conduct.

Stewart faced Manly Local Court last Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges against a 17-year-old girl in North Manly last month.

While opposition fans and players may give the Test star a hostile reception, Orford expects a largely forgiving crowd at Manly's fortress on Sunday.

"The fans will love seeing him back," said Orford.

"He plays great football and I know all the boys are really excited about having him back."

Manly will also be boosted by the likely return of centre Jamie Lyon (knee) while Kiwi Test star Steve Matai (shoulder) should also be fit to play.

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