How Newcastle pair Best and Marzhew forged rugby league’s newest brotherhood of destruction

Australia World

On the surface, Knights duo Greg Marzhew and Bradman Best don’t seem to have a whole lot in common beyond an affinity for leaving carnage behind them as they trample over defenders.

Best was a child prodigy of a junior footballer, the kind of player whose ascension to first grade was not just expected but awaited. He entered the NRL at 18, grabbed a try on debut and looked like he’d always belonged.

Marzhew was a later bloomer who spent five years in his teens competing internationally as a hip hop dancer before focusing on rugby league. He bounced between a few different clubs en route to making his NRL debut at 24.

Best is from Woy Woy on the New South Wales Central Coast, so Newcastle, the city and the team, have always been a part of his life. 

Marzhew, by his own admission, didn’t know anything about the Hunter until he arrived in town for this season as part of a trade with Gold Coast.

But now, with the Knights riding a nine-match winning streak and gearing up for their first home final in almost two decades, Best and Marzhew are playing like they were always meant to find one another, sharing a talent for brute-force running that leaves defenders battered and bruised, and fans clapping like seals.

Loading Twitter content

The duo have yet to meet a rugby league problem this year they couldn’t solve by running hard, combining for 33 tries, 36 line breaks and 224 tackle busts this season.

With Marzhew inking a contract extension that will keep him in the Hunter until the end of 2026, their brotherhood of destruction is just getting started.

The new deal was a reward that’s been a long time coming for Marzhew, following stints in the lower grades at the Titans and Eels

“It was tough at times, especially with COVID when I couldn’t play reserve grade and show what I had,” Marzhew said.

“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.”

Carrying the ball has always been easy for Marzhew – he’s the kind of guy who has muscles in places most people don’t and he regularly bench presses north of 200 kilos in the Knights gym.

A man goes in to score during a rugby league match

Marzhew has scored 20 tries in as many games for Newcastle. (Getty Images: Scott Gardiner)

That strength and power has always translated well with ball in hand. Back in 2017, Marzhew made the Under 20s team of the year after scoring 17 tries, running for over 4,000 metres and breaking 206 tackles in just 19 games. And while he continued putting up similar numbers in reserve grade, defence never came as naturally for the 26-year old.

That’s something that has helped boost his combination with Best, who had also come under fire for his defensive play in the past.

“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 does all the work anyway, I just catch the ball and put it down.

“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.”

Best himself has been in the form of his young life since starring on debut for New South Wales in State of Origin III.

Bradman Best leaps in the air

Best scored a double for New South Wales in his State of Origin debut. (Getty Images: Brendon Thorne)

The 22-year old’s selection was considered a gamble by some but Best rose to the occasion in fine style, scoring two tries in a romping Blues win and he’s taken that form back to Newcastle where he’s been the league’s in-form centre during the Knights 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.

“I wanted to come back and bring that confidence to the boys and we’re showing that we’re capable of anything.

“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.”

Best and Marzhew will be short odds to add to their try-scoring tally in Sunday’s elimination final clash with Canberra but if they do get over the stripe just don’t expect Marzhew to break out any of his old moves.

His dancing days are well and truly over but who needs to dance when you can run over things like he and Best can?

“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.”