Benji Marshall - NRL

Partner’s name: Zoe
Child’s name: Benjamin Fox (newborn)

Since he burst onto the scene at the Wests Tigers as a precocious teenager back in 2003, Benji Marshall has been one of the most popular players in the NRL. There wouldn’t be a rugby league loving kid in the past 15 years that hasn’t practised a Benji sidestep, flick pass or no look pass in their backyards, such is his influence and incredible talent. A 2005 Grand Final winner in the Tigers unlikely premiership, a game known for the Benji flick pass which lead to a wonderful try, Benji is closing in on 300 NRL games and is now back at the Tigers to finish his career after stints with the Blues in Super Rugby, before returning to the NRL to play with the Dragons and Broncos. This year, Benji has played a big part as the Tigers have climbed from the bottom of the ladder to finals contenders, showing not so much the flashy feet of his past, but the guile of a true league craftsman controlling his team. The kid who has grown up before our eyes is now a 33-year-old father, who lives for his baby boy Fox. "My life has completely changed," Benji says. "Everything I do revolves around Fox which I love and I feel like my purpose in life was to become a father. It is something I have wanted for a really long time and I can't actually remember life without Fox. It just feels so unbelievably great being a dad.” His wife Zoe went on to say "Benji's love and dedication to Fox is more than an asset, it's just the way he is. He loves the boys more than I've ever seen a man love a child. He is so thoughtful and funny and caring. He's always singing and playing the guitar to Fox. He takes over every afternoon and cooks all my dinners while feeding Fox, bathing him and settling him to bed."

Being a new dad how hard is it spending time away from the family during the season? That is the hardest part by far. You just never want to be away from your baby and I cherish every moment with Fox that I have. Thank god for FaceTime. - Benji

Where you at his birth and how was it? Yeah I was at the birth!!!! It is by far the single most amazing moment in my whole life. Witnessing my dream come true first hand and getting to be able to deliver him myself and give him to Zoe after I pulled him out was an amazing feeling. Also cutting the cord was something else. I was pretty busy throughout the labour with techniques I learnt through a course called she births to help Zoe cope through everything and make her feel as comfortable and supported as possible. I am proud of how I was able to contribute through it all. - Benji

I guess you've seen your partner in a whole new light? Yeah I def have!!! I cannot be more proud of Zoe. She amazes me. Her strength and will throughout the birth was unbelievable. Women really are incredible and after going through the birth of Fox it just amazes me what the mind and body of women are capable of. It’s a respect of another level that you cannot explain until you go through birth yourself. - Benji

What are your home duties with Benjamin? Where do I start lol! We have a pretty solid routine with Fox. I get him up in the morning and change his nappy before I go to training then I get home at 2 and usually feed him his solids then put him down. Witching hour is usually 5-6 so I play with him and keep him entertained and usually get dinner cooked during that time for Zoe to eat at 5.45 then while she eats I bath him then hand him over for his night feed at 6pm. I also do the night shift where I watch his monitor and if he wakes or unsettles I deal with it. - Benji

What is your favourite activity with him? My favourite thing with Fox is bath time for sure. It’s the time where we get to bond just me and him and we play games and sing songs so it’s always fun for him. - Benji

Do you have a any memorable moments with him at this early stage? Yeah the first time I played the guitar and sung to him he really was intrigued by music and loved it so much. He even sings with me now. - Benji

Do you enjoy being a dad? It is the thing I am most proud of in my life. You can never explain or understand what being a dad means until you actually are one. I feel very lucky to have a great wife who is an amazing mother to Fox and we work great as a team in parenting our son. - Benji

On game day, do you like to relax with the family or do they understand to keep away from you? In my house football comes second now for sure so game days have definitely changed a lot. I used to have a strict routine that has gone out the window since we had Fox. But I wouldn’t have it any other way and it really helps take your mind off footy as well. - Benji

If he was to take after you and become a professional sportsperson would you be comfortable with that, any advice for him? Yeah of course!!! But he can become whatever he wants. I would be just as happy if he didn’t want to be a professional sportsperson and wanted to go down the arts path like his mum. At the end of the day I will encourage him to try everything and then see what he enjoys the most. My advice would then be you get out what you put in so however great you want to be is up to you!!!! - Benji

Is he a hands on dad? Beyond. He does it all. As well as looks after me. When we are in public or out at a dinner he has the baby. I’m lucky if I get a hold. He is so proud of his baby. He loves to push the pram, feed him, settle him - he does it all not only when at home but especially when we are out so I get a good break. I am beyond grateful. - Zoe


Sports Dad of the Year 2018
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