General Marshall to return one month early



Wests Tigers NRL superstar Benji Marshall is set to make a shock return from a fractured cheekbone a month ahead of schedule against Melbourne next weekend.

Marshall suffered the injury against St George Illawarra in round one and was initially expected to take at least six weeks to fully recover.

As the Tigers have the bye in round eight, club officials were concerned his first game back could be for New Zealand against Australia in the Anzac Test match at Suncorp Stadium on May 5.

But the star five-eighth has recovered quicker than expected and club doctor Donald Kuah is likely to clear him to play against the Storm next Sunday.

"I think he'd certainly love to be there as soon as he could," Tigers CEO Steve Noyce said from Christchurch, where the Tigers play the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday night.

"He is absolutely desperate to get back out there as soon as he can and help out his teammates.

"It would be exciting to have him back, but you can't rush these things.

"He's just got to get through this week first and then the doctor can have a look at him and see where his up to.

"We've got a lot of injuries at the moment and it would be great to start getting our guys back on deck.

"We'll just wait and see what happens."

The Tigers are so confident of having their gun playmaker back for the Leichhardt Oval clash they even took the unprecedented step of flagging his return on their website.

"Benji has made a better than expected recovery and is a chance of playing the Melbourne Storm at Leichhardt Oval in round four," said Wests Tigers recruitment manager Warren McDonnell.

The news is a massive boost for the Tigers, who sorely missed their star playmaker during last weekend's 47-12 drubbing by the Bulldogs.

The premiers have won only six of 20 matches without Marshall and are still reeling from a heavy injury toll, with Robbie Farah (hand), Bryce Gibbs (suspended/concussed), Dene Halatau (shoulder), Shane Elford (knee), Chris Heighington (cheekbone) and Liam Fulton (shoulder) all in the casualty ward.