Benji Marshall wins Celebrity Apprentice Australia, opens up about missing father

Benji Marshall made his name on the rugby league field, but is not Celebrity Apprentice Australia winner. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

Kiwis rugby league legend Benji Marshall has won Celebrity Apprentice Australia, which featured an episode in which he opened up about his missing biological father.

The trans-Tasman footballer, who is based in Sydney but grew up in the Bay of Plenty, beat television presenter Darren McMullen in the final on Tuesday night, winning $A100,000 prize, which will go to South Cares, the kids’ charitable body associated with South Sydney rugby league club.

“Who would’ve thought, just a washed-up footy player winning Celebrity Apprentice,” Marshall said on being announced by Lord Sugar as the winner. “We raised almost half a million dollars.’’

One of the most emotional episodes of the show involved Marshall pitching a business idea to the judges, which he said would involve a six-part docu-series centred on finding his father.

Marshall said as a highlights reel of his league career played on screen: “300 games for the NRL, runs round the footy field, all these big moves, fancy steps, flick passes, you know that. That’s not the real me.

“I don’t know my real dad. “I don’t know my culture, I don’t know my nationality.”

“Who am I?”

Marshall, who grew up in Whakatāne, said his mother gave birth to him when she was just 15.

“I have this vivid memory of a seven-year-old little Māori boy in his lounge room holding a butter knife, scared, sitting back in the dark in the corner so no one could come from behind and get me. Messed up.”

“All I wanted was someone to save me, someone to tuck me in, someone to love me. All I wanted was a dad.

“In the playground at school when I was a kid, the kids would tease me: ha ha, you don’t know your dad, you don’t know your dad’. And I would sit there in the playground crying because I felt different to everyone else”.

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