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Marshall to coach Tigers in 2025 after serving under returning Sheens as part of five-year deal

Tim Sheens is set to be announced as the next coach of the Wests Tigers with Benji Marshall inking a five-year deal to take over in 2025 after serving an apprenticeship as the assistant.

Sheens has been given the club’s blessing to coach the team himself after the veteran head of football tried unsuccessfully to get Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo to take the role.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald report on Thursday, the details are being finalised on the radical arrangement in which Sheens will return to coaching from his head of football role a decade after he was sacked by the club and took them to court.

Marshall played 257 of his 346 NRL appearances with the Tigers and was the star of their 2005 Grand Final triumph under Sheens, who had earlier taken Canberra to three premierships. He retired after playing in South Sydney’s loss to Penrith in last year’s GF and has been working as an analyst for Fox League.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Director of Football at Wests Tigers,Tim Sheens looks on during a Wests Tigers NRL training session at St Lukes Park North on April 13, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Tim Sheens. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

His long-time fomer teammate Robbie Farah, who is on the current support staff, is expected to remain in a role as part of the new coaching set-up. Farah has been on the coaching staff for the past couple of years, acting as an on-field trainer under Michael Maguire, who was sacked last month.

Marshall told Fox League on Tuesday night that coaching the club down the track was “the dream for me”.

Interim coach Brett Kimmorley is keen to become a full-time NRL coach and had support within the club but it appears Sheens, who led the Wests Tigers to their only title in 2005, will oversee the team from next season with a view to handing the baton to Marshall in a couple of years.

Marshall said he would not be the head coach “any time soon” but he only wanted to take the reins at the club where he made his name as a player.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere else. The dream for me would be to be a coach and at the Wests Tigers would be the ideal situation,” Marshall said.

Benji Marshall of the Tigers

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“Obviously it has been reported that Tim’s going to get the job and he’s going to mentor someone. Now if the opportunity for me was to be mentored under him with, I suppose, a pathway to become a head coach, it’s something I would definitely consider.

“That’s an opportunity I may never get again, the opportunity to try and become a head coach so if they did go down that path and asked me that, I’d definitely be interested and consider that.”

Marshall said he thought he was ready to take on the responsibility. 

“The thing I’ve always done is back myself,” he said.

“I want to see the club succeed and I genuinely believe that Tim’s the best option to come in and help to turn it around, whether that’s two or three years, I don’t know. I’m happy to bide my time underneath him.

“I believe I can have a genuine impact there.”

Eels forward Isaiah Papali’i will be heading to the Wests Tigers next year after seeking assurances from the club and Marshall reportedly played a role in convincing his fellow Kiwi not to ask for a release.

Papali’i, who has signed a lucrative three-year deal after a breakout season with Parramatta in 2021, met with Sheens recently due to the uncertainty at TigerTown following Maguire’s abrupt departure.

Eels coach Brad Arthur on Wednesady said the Dally M Second-Rower of the Year would be welcome to stay in blue and gold if he gained a release from the Tigers.

“It’s possible,” Arthur said. “It’s totally up to him what he needs to do and how he wants to handle it.

“He’s a quality player. We see what he’s done for our club. But also on the flipside what our club’s done for him.”

Panthers hooker Api Koroisau is the Wests Tigers’ other main signing for 2023 while halfback Luke Brooks’ future is again uncertain with the Tigers reportedly open to him heading elsewhere as he is due to be paid around $1 million for the final year of his contract.

The Tigers are running last heading into Sunday’s home clash with Penrith and have the longest finals drought in the NRL after missing the playoffs every year since Sheens took them to the 2011 semis.

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