Chris Kennedy, NRL.com
After helping his new club earn a win over his old club – the one he guided to a premiership in 2005 and once said he could never play against – Benji Marshall said the win hadn't been about him.
Addressing reporters after the Dragons' 28-12 win over Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, Marshall was almost sheepish at the attention his participation had garnered in the lead-up to the match.
Marshall was solid if unspectacular during the game while his halves partner Gareth Widdop ran riot, scoring two tries and helping create two more.
"It was pretty hard to prepare for [the game] to be honest. I just tried to make it not about me this week, it was about the team needing the two points," Marshall said.
"There were times in the game where I was a little bit fazed by the occasion but Gareth just took over and really stood up today."
He said there were times when it seemed surreal to look up and see his mates (Tigers hooker Robbie Farah, winger Pat Richards and back-rower Dene Halatau all played alongside Marshall in the 2005 Grand Final win) on the other side.
"You look across and see your mates who you played with for so long; I was just happy to get the two points."
He said his coach Paul McGregor had addressed the occasion with him during the week.
"He sort of said to the whole team that I'm one of them now, to look after me out there. The boys did that. It wasn't my best game but I just played a pretty basic role and Gareth brought the all-out flair today," he said.
"It was more about control – I think last week [in the 21-12 loss to Manly] we tried a few too many things different away from our game plan, today I just tried to control the game plan and get us in the right positions."
With the game against his old club out of the way he said he will now put it behind him.
"They'll be my mates no matter what. We'll just carry on here."
Marshall wasn't buying into the game-day dramas at the Tigers, including speculation over the future of coach Mick Potter, although he conceded it would’ve affected the Dragons’ Round 20 opponents.
"I just try to stay away from it to be honest. The same sort of dramas [happened] when I was there, the same sort of talk, you don't like to hear it as a player and I'm sure they're feeling the same.
"It had to [have affected them]. On game day, the talk that's been floating around now, it's hard not to get caught up into it. They're a young side with a lot of potential, I'm sure they'll bounce back."
After the game, McGregor was full of praise for how Marshall had handled himself, saying he wasn't at all concerned Marshall would be overcome by the occasion or overplay his hand.
"I'm comfortable with Benji. I've said that from day one and I'm still comfortable with Benji. I like the way he plays, I like the way he trains, I like the way he goes about his stuff. I'm very comfortable with where he was and I knew the emotion wouldn't get hold of him because he's a 200 game player, he's played a lot of emotional games."