Tackle Count: The contrasting tales of two modern day NRL legends

UNDECIDED: Where will NRL veterans Benji Marshall and Cameron Smith play in 2021? Pictures: Grant Trouville/NRL Imagery

UNDECIDED: Where will NRL veterans Benji Marshall and Cameron Smith play in 2021? Pictures: Grant Trouville/NRL Imagery

Where will the chips land in 2021?

They've combined for more than 700 NRL games, both won premierships, captained their countries and been goliaths of the modern game.

But what does the future hold for Cameron Smith and Benji Marshall?

Smith's plans for 2021 have been a talking point for months as he continues to weigh up what to do next.

The Storm captain ended months of speculation in late 2019 by signing a two-year deal with the club, however, there has been suggestions he may hang up the boots at the end of this year.

Discussion also continues to linger that the 37-year-old could move north, to the Broncos or Titans, to help out the struggling clubs.

Smith has been labelled 'selfish' in the media for taking his time to make a decision. Phil Gould has even stated that it's 'not all about him'.

But doesn't the experienced hooker deserve to make that call, whenever he wants, after having such an impact on the sport?

Well, that's where we arrive at Benji Marshall.

The 35-year-old "categorically ruled out" leaving the Tigers in June, vowing to fight his way back into the side after being dropped.

But just this week, coach Michael Maguire reportedly informed the five-eighth that the Tigers wouldn't have a spot for him next season as they look to go in a different direction.

Marshall is the man who played a key part in Wests' 2005 premiership and brought years of joy to Tigers supporters, and NRL fans in general.

Marshall has indicated that he would like to play on next year. Where will he end up? Who knows, but it feels like a sad end to his Tigers era.

A number of subplots will feature this week. Will the Bulldogs secure their win of the season against Gold Coast? Can the rejuvenated Warriors charge into the top eight? And are the Knights any chance of bouncing back against Cronulla?

The round kicks off tonight with the under-siege Broncos taking on the Panthers. Buckle up for another interesting start to the round.

* This edition of Tackle Count was written by Joshua Bartlett.

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This story The contrasting tales of two modern day NRL legends first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.