Benji Marshall: Players should stop going to the pub
If you want to stay out of the headlines, stay out of the pub.
That's the advice of rugby league legend Benji Marshall to up and coming NRL players who want to enjoy a long and successful career on sport's field of dreams.
And one more thing - if you want to live a normal life as a league star, forget it.
Marshall, who is about to begin his 17th season in a career that has been relatively free of controversy, is disappointed that league's off-season has been plagued by players facing assault convictions, domestic violence, leaked sex tapes and punch-ups in cabs and nightclubs.
"I'm in the same boat as everyone else - everyone's fed up with the off-field drama and wants to start talking about footy," he said.
The spotlight on the NRL means players can't afford a single slip-up, according to the Wests Tigers veteran who will make his Foxtel comeback this season.
Promising not to sugar coat his assessment of the game, Marshall said: "Everyone wants footy players to live normal lives but I don't think we can.
"Players will have to sacrifice their lives off the field in order to make it through a 10-year career. Young guys want to have beers with their mates but we can't go to the pub anymore, we need to stay home."
Marshall's advice comes in part from bitter experience.
After bursting onto the scene as an 18-year-old for the Wests Tigers in 2003, he was charged with assault in 2011 after another man sustained a facial injury in an altercation at a McDonald's restaurant in the centre of Sydney.
However, the judge dismissed the case, saying she had reasonable doubt the injury was caused by Marshall.
With the NRL season getting underway, Marshall can't wait for kick-off in his 290th first grade game against the Sea Eagles on Saturday night.
He will also suit up alongside St George-Illawarra Dragons enforcer James Graham for NRL 360 Players Night on Tuesdays, hosted by Ben Ikin and Paul Kent.
He joins a Fox League line-up that includes Immortal Mal Meninga, Hall of Famers Gorden Tallis and Steve Roach, and legends Matty Johns, Greg Alexander, Mick Ennis, Mark Gasnier, Braith Anasta, Justin Hodges, Corey Parker and Nathan Hindmarsh.
As well as starring on NRL 360, Marshall will appear on Fox League pre and post-game coverage throughout the season.