Wests Tigers respond after Benji Marshall questioned over family holiday during bye round

The coach has jetted off to Fiji with wife Zoe and their kids.

Wests Tigers chairman Barry O’Farrell has shot down suggestions it's 'not a good look' for coach Benji Marshall and CEO Shane Richardson to be overseas during the club's bye week considering how bad they're going. The Tigers are second-last on the NRL ladder with just two wins from 11 games so far this year, and Marshall's side are coming off back-to-back wooden spoons.

Marshall hasn't been able to work much magic this year after being fast-tracked into the head-coaching role at the expense of Tim Sheens. With the club on a bye this week, the players and staff have been given three days off before they'll return and turn their attention to the Round 14 clash with the Dragons.

Phil Rothfield of the Daily Telegraph revealed on Monday that Marshall is using the time off to head to Fiji for a holiday with wife Zoe and their kids. But Rothfield suggested it was a poor look for the coach to be jetting off on holidays when the club is in crisis and in desperate need of a turnaround.

Benji Marshall, pictured here with wife Zoe.
Benji Marshall and wife Zoe have jetted off to Fiji during the Wests Tigers' bye. Image: Getty

The veteran journalist put the question to interim Tigers chairman O'Farrell, who responded by pointing out that the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) mandates that everyone be given three days off during a bye week. O'Farrell said Richardson is in the UK on business, and Marshall is free to do whatever he likes in his downtime.

Benji Marshall and wife Zoe.
Benji Marshall and wife Zoe in 2013.

"Results at the halfway point are clearly not what we as a club had hoped for," O'Farrell said. "Our CEO is abroad on business, overlapping our bye round.

"Our football staff and players have been given time off to freshen up. RLPA mandate is 3 days for players. Players and staff are encouraged to spend this time with family, and get away from footy for a few days.

"All senior staff are available if needed 24/7 via phone. Football staff and players will resume as a group after this short break to begin preparations for our R14 match v Dragons - Fri 7 June."

Benji Marshall, pictured here during the Wests Tigers' clash with Newcastle.
Benji Marshall looks on during the Wests Tigers' clash with Newcastle.


Discussing the situation on NRL 360 on Monday night, Gorden Tallis said legendary coaches like Wayne Bennett wouldn't be going on holidays in the middle of a season. “Do you think Craig Bellamy, he’s a 20-to-30 year coach, do you think that he goes away to Fiji?” Tallis asked.

“Do you think Wayne Bennett does? If you’re coaching against those guys and they’re putting in more hours, normally they would do a better job than you, that’s all I’m saying.”

Braith Anasta said it wouldn't be a problem if the Tigers were winning games, but the reality is they're not. “If they’re winning more games, no-one’s got a problem with it, right?” Anasta said. “It’s a bad look because they’re going terrible.”

It comes after Marshall was also questioned earlier this year about whether he was doing enough of the 'extra work' required to turn the Tigers around. The Daily Telegraph reported in the pre-season in March that Marshall had been arriving at training sessions after some of the players and other staff members.

"You don't play 347 games with a poor work ethic," Marshall responded after his worth ethic was questioned in a press conference. "The timing when we're about to play our first game, haven't coached a game officially is disappointing. I didn't want to have to justify the way I do things, but what I don't like is when things are told that are not true.

"You ask anyone in the building, I'm in here at quarter-to-six training with the staff before the players get in so they see us doing the hard yards before they come. Coaching-wise I know I've got a lot to learn and I have to work hard."

Marshall said it was unrealistic to suggest coaches should pour every waking minute into their job, especially when they have young families. "What's a 24-7 coach? Who says I don't (live and breathe the job)?" he hit back. "I come into work early before the players. Work as hard as we can until we get what we need done. Then we go home. Because I prioritise my family between 5-8pm every night to find a work/life balance, that doesn't mean I don't care about my job or care about working hard. I don't get it."