Bennett’s blunt response to Benji bench call

Veteran supercoach Wayne Bennett said he didn’t want to “embarrass” Benji Marshall by bringing him off the bench in South Sydney’s 56-12 thumping at the hands of the Panthers.

It was only two rounds ago that Wayne Bennett’s men were pummelled 50-0 by the Storm at Stadium Australia.

And despite welcoming back Latrell Mitchell and Campbell Graham into the fold, things went south quickly for the Bunnies on Sunday afternoon.

A Matt Burton hat-trick was the icing on the cake and proved why he’s still such a valued part of Ivan Cleary’s squad despite signing a deal to move to Canterbury next year.

But it was the absence of Marshall, who remained on the bench the entire game, that raised questions around the veteran playmaker.

Speaking in the wake of the loss, Bennett bluntly told reporters that he didn’t want to throw Marshall to the wolves in a horror day out for South Sydney.

“I wasn’t going to embarrass him,” Bennett said when asked about his decision to leave Marshall on the bench.

“We weren’t defending mate, and Benji isn’t known as the greatest defender the game’s ever seen.”

Bennett also apologised “to the fans for how we played”, and gave no certainty over Cameron Murray’s chances of returning for the Bunnies and NSW.

“Maybe next week, doubtful, maybe a slight chance,” Bennett said.

“We thought we were missing Latrell and a few others and they all turned up today.

“So I don’t think Cam Murray is going to turn us around by himself.

“I don’t know, if he doesn’t play for us next week I’m sure he won’t play in Origin I.

“We won’t play him unless he’s fit. It’s up to the medical people.”

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