Kiss Cam: Benji’s breach could cost club big time
It was the friendly kiss which forced a rugby league champion to be sent home from training and quarantined over COVID-19 fears.
Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall kissed Channel 7 reporter Michelle Bishop - who was on location filing a story - at the club's St Luke's Park training facility in Concord on Wednesday.
The pair are acquaintances with Marshall - wearing a black beanie - giving Bishop a peck on the left cheek. It breached the NRL's strict biosecurity protocols with Marshall told to immediately isolate from teammates.
Bishop had sent Marshall a text message on Tuesday night after the Tigers champion was surprisingly dumped for his club's match against Canberra this weekend.
Marshall had parked his car and was heading to the training field when he spotted Bishop, who was waiting alongside other media. He walked over and kissed her.
Bishop immediately realised Marshall had made a mistake that was caught on camera and gently pushed the Tiger towards his teammates.
Bishop underwent a COVID test at 3pm on Wednesday and is expected to receive the results on Thursday morning.
Marshall will not be permitted back at training until Bishop is cleared.
"Just goes to show you, we can all get caught up in life and forget what kind of world we are living in at the moment. Off to be tested. #innocent #awkward #apologies," Bishop tweeted.
With Marshall having been in the club's biosecurity bubble, officials believe he is COVID free.
Channel 7 news director Jason Morrison said Tigers coach Michael Maguire had called Bishop to apologise.
"It was very decent of him to be concerned about her," Morrison said.
"She has gone to have a test as a precaution so that Benji can return to training."
Wests Tigers are facing a breach notice and possible fine from the NRL.
It comes just a week after Canterbury great Terry Lamb was sanctioned for shaking the hands of players during a Bulldogs training session at Belmore.
Canterbury was issued a $25,000 suspended fine.
Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks was shocked when Marshall was dropped.
"I thought Benji had been one of our best players. It was a shock and it puts everyone on notice if someone like Benji can be dropped," Brooks said.
"No one is safe. We have to play our best footy week-in and week-out or there will be someone else coming in."
Brooks also admitted he was lucky to survive the axe after five players were dropped in a mass culling.
Revealing the entire team had been put on notice following the Tigers shock loss to the Titans, Brooks declared "no one is safe'' before admitting he could have suffered the same fate as Marshall.
Luke Garner, Robert Jennings, Billy Waters, Oliver Clark and Marshall were all dumped from the NRL by Michael Maguire in an iron fisted reaction to the 28-23 defeat.
"In a way (I feel lucky)," Brooks said.
Set to partner Josh Reynolds in the halves following Marshall's demotion, Brooks claimed a poor attitude was to blame for the loss to the Gold Coast.
"We didn't do the things we needed to win the game," Brooks said.
"For me it was kicking to the corners. I didn't do that enough. In turn that put pressure on us and there were a few seven tackle sets.
"It put a lot of pressure on our defence and cost us."
Brooks is confident Reynolds will provide some much-needed spark heading into the clash against the Raiders.
"He has been training the house down,'' Brooks said. "And he has been rewarded for that. He is a great player and definitely first grade material. I am looking forward to playing with him.''
Brooks also backed Marshall to force his way back into the first grade side.
Originally published as Kiss Cam: Benji's breach could cost club big time