Marshall to start against Sharks

07 February 2018 06:22:22 EST

Benji Marshall is set to make his debut second time around for Wests Tigers when they face Cronulla in their final pre-season game.

It will mark a 1,631-day gap since he last pulled on a Tigers jersey, and will come on the eve of his 33rd birthday.

Marshall is the biggest-name player in the merged club's 18-year-history, and returns following a brief stint in rugby union with the Blues and then spells with the Dragons and Brisbane back in the NRL.

He won't play in the 17th February trial against the Cowboys in Cairns, instead staying behind when the squad fly north to be with his wife Zoe ahead of the expected birth of their first child.

Coach Ivan Cleary plans to use his top 17 for the majority of their final warm-up game against the Sharks, which will be just two weeks out from the season-opener.

Talking of his selection criteria for the North Queensland clash, Cleary said: "Anyone who can, and it's not really a risk in their preparation, will play. I'm not about putting people in cotton wool but I'm not going to risk them either."

The coach says it's a boost to the club to have Marshall - who had an 11-year spell with the Tigers and played 201 games - back on board.

"To have a guy who left the club really want to come back because he loves the club, that was really positive," he added. "He's good to have around in many respects. His experience, knowledge and understanding of the game."

Wests Tigers are 14/1 to finish in the top eight and 5000/1 to suffer most losses in 2018.

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