NRL finals rest on pivotal clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL finals rest on pivotal clash

By Steve Jancetic 10/09/2010 10:04:55 AM Comments (0)

Thirty-four players will take part in Saturday night's qualifying final blockbuster between Wests Tigers and the Sydney Roosters, but no battle will match that of the two No.6s.

Todd Carney, who this week walked away with the Dally M medal as the NRL's best for 2010, up against Tigers maestro Benji Marshall in a one-on-one duel which should fill the Sydney Football Stadium.

"Everyone's looking forward to that match-up between Benji and Toddy," Tigers skipper Robbie Farah said.

"(Carney's) a player that like Benji can create something out of nothing because he's got great speed and I think he's shown this year that he can really turn a game for them."

For Carney it's just a another hurdle to overcome - the talented Roosters playmaker having already outperformed on every expectation in reviving the hopes of a club which finished last season anchored to the bottom of the ladder.

But you get the sense that Saturday night is a little personal.

"You try and set yourself as the benchmark in your position, and I feel Benji's in that class," Carney revealed.

"He's won grand finals, he's played for his country, he's captained his country - it's going to be a big test.

"I can't get caught up too much on Benji because he's got players inside him playing good football, but Benji's their backbone."

And what a backbone.

Through all the superlatives that have been penned during Carney's stellar campaign, it's easy to overlook Marshall's deeds in steering the Tigers to third spot on the ladder.

"I've played with some great players, but some of the things I've seen him do on the footy field are probably things that I don't think any other players can do," Farah said.

"Some of the flick passes and stuff like that. Obviously the grand final one comes to mind and the one (at the SFS) last year against Parra in the Friday night game.

"Some of the things you see him do on the field, not only to be able to pull them off but to actually think about doing them on the field is pretty mind-blowing."

Marshall proved his ability to stand up under the spotlight of finals football with a starring role in the Tigers' 2005 triumph, but that was five years ago and the Tigers haven't been back to the finals since.

Carney is even more green when it comes to finals, with just one post-season game for Canberra back in 2006.

"There is a bit of pressure on Todd now, but he's earned that," Roosters skipper Braith Anasta said.

"I think it's not such a bad thing when you've got pressure on yourself for being a great player, you've obviously done the right thing and done the hard work.

"He'll play with a lot of confidence because he's had a great year, so even though he's got pressure on him, he's in a good place at the moment and he'll handle it."

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