Although seemingly contrasting figures, Knights pair Greg Marzhew and Bradman Best have something electrifying in common – their ability to create sheer havoc on the rugby field by steamrolling their opponents.
Best was always seen as a young star of the junior rugby league, with excitement building over his transition into the NRL ranks. Entering the big scene at just 18 years old, he shone from the onset scoring a try in his debut match and proving he had a rightful place in the NRL.
In contrast, Marzhew’s rise to the NRL was more circuitous, taking time off in his teenage years to compete as a hip hop dancer on the global stage before deciding to dedicate himself to rugby league. Before his NRL debut at age 24, he played at several different clubs.
Woy Woy-raised Best has always had a connection to Newcastle, both to the city and the team.
On the other hand, Marzhew – a quick learner by his own account – only started exploring the Hunter area when he got traded to the Knights from Gold Coast ahead of the current season.
Now, as the Knights stride on with a nine-game winning streak and anticipate their first home final in nearly 20 years, Marzhew and Best’s synergy on the field is impossible to ignore. Their aggressive and forceful running have left opposing defenders overwhelmed, rendering jubilant fans into something akin to approving seals.
Together, the dynamic duo has been a solution to most of the rugby league problems faced by the Knights this year. They have combined for an impressive 33 tries, 36 line breaks and a mammoth 224 tackles busted throughout the season.
This explosive partnership is only the beginning, with Marzhew signing a contract extension that ensures he stays in the Hunter until the end of 2026.
Marzhew’s new deal is a much-deserved reward after enduring tough stints in the lower grades at the Titans and Eels. He revealed, “It was tough at times, especially with COVID when I couldn’t play reserve grade and show what I had. I had to stick it out and I know coaches saw potential in me, that’s why they kept me around, but once I had my daughter it kicked into gear.”
“This girl hasn’t seen me play footy and I want her to see that daddy can play. I needed that extra push but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I learned my lessons on the way and I learned to be patient, I learned that if I get dropped there’s a reason. It’s one of those things that had to happen.”
For Marzhew, who is able to bench press over 200 kilos, carrying the ball comes naturally. The formidable player, famed for his physical prowess, has scored 20 tries in 20 games for Newcastle so far.
The combination of Best and Marzhew has been particularly potent due to the improvement in their defensive plays, once a weaker part of their games.
“He compliments my game big time, especially defensively. We’ve both copped a bit of criticism on our defence and we’re trying to show the people critiquing us that we can play footy, we want to prove them all wrong,” Marzhew said.
“He’s a larrikin, once you get to know him he’ll tell jokes for days. He’s like a brother to me, it’s pretty cracker.”
Indeed, Best has been on a hot streak since his debut for New South Wales in State of Origin III. His dazzling form has continued back in Newcastle establishing him as the league’s in-form centre during the Knight’s recent winning streak.
“It boosted my confidence and self-belief, playing in that arena with such high-calibre players. It shows I do belong there, that I’m made for any challenge.”
“We’ve got a mad chemistry, we love being together. Greggy deserves everything he’s getting and he’s a beast, I love playing with him. He’s a character as well, I’m just glad I don’t have to defend him.”
Striding into an elimination final clash against Canberra, spectators anticipate more tries added to Best’s and Marzhew’s tally. Despite his past in dance, don’t expect Marzhew to break into dance routines, his dancing days are well behind him now.
He jokingly quipped, “We went to America twice for the world championships, the first year we came fourth in our division and the year after that we went downhill. That’s when I started footy but I’ve bulked up since then, I was little twig back then, I could move then but now I can’t.”