Benji Marshall has been a driving force for Wests Tigers.
Benji Marshall has been a driving force for Wests Tigers. DEAN LEWINS

Struggling Moses needs to fire up against rampant Marshall

BENJI Marshall would be lucky to be on half Mitchell Moses' salary.

But heading into Monday's crucial showdown between the two playmakers, it's fair to say Wests Tigers fans wouldn't swap Benji for the player who left the club last year.

While former Tiger Moses is under fire with Parramatta winless and the halfback failing to register a single run in last week's loss to Cronulla, Marshall's return is one of the season's success stories.

The 33-year-old got his starting team call-up only after Josh Reynolds injured a hamstring before the opening game. But even before that, coach Ivan Cleary said Marshall's influence was obvious.

"It has been more than just the three weeks, it has been the whole pre-season,” Cleary said. "He is obviously very experienced and manages the game well. He gives guidance and confidence as well.”

Marshall's return has had a huge impact on Luke Brooks.

He struggled to grow his game when playing alongside Moses and many believed it was Moses' dominant personality holding him back.

But with Marshall beside him, Brooks is finally living up to the hype thrust on him even before his entry to the top grade.

"Obviously that combination with Benji is probably something he is not used to, having a real senior guy come in,” Cleary said.

"Luke is like a lot of guys here. Benji is the guy that was up on the wall at home.

"I have said this before, it was really obvious he (Marshall) was really keen to play and thought he had a lot to offer. I think that has shown.”

In contrast to Marshall's start, Moses is struggling in a team that can't crack it for a win and sits last in points scored this season.

Before the season kicked off, Eels coach Brad Arthur challenged Moses to take ownership of the team. Yet aside from a blistering opening spell in round one against Penrith, the 23-year-old has offered no real threat.

Many expected Moses to contend for a NSW jumper this year, but his name is rapidly dropping out of the conversation.

He needs a big game against his former club to put himself back in the debate, but Arthur is not pointing the finger at his recruit.

"You talk about game management and owning a team, well, you need the footy to do it,” Arthur said yesterday.

"We are the worst in the competition for possession, 40 per cent. The halves job is not to get out there and own the team defensively.

"He has to make his tackles, but the halves have got to own the team with the ball and the kicking game and our kicking game has been okay. We just don't have any ball which makes it hard to manage the game.”

There is no overstating just how important this game is for Parramatta.

Fox Sports Stats show that in the club's history, it has never fought back to make the finals after losing its first four games.

"It is really important that we get off to a win,” Arthur said.

"But it is really important that we get some footy to get some confidence in our attack and we will actually get a fair indication of where we are at as a footy team.”

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