'No, it's not Benji'

Brooke Howard-Smith and the Benji Marshall lookalike.
Brooke Howard-Smith and the Benji Marshall lookalike.

An Auckland man has contacted Benji Marshall's agent to reassure him he is not impersonating the Blues star.

The man also contacted the Herald on Sunday after last weekend's story about a Marshall-lookalike, which was published after TV presenter Brooke Howard-Smith tweeted a photograph of the pair.

The man rejected suggestions he had impersonated the rugby player and said while he was teased about looking like Marshall and was sometimes approached by people who thought he was the rugby player, he had never pretended to be him.

The man says he and fellow workers went out for a quiet drink after work when "Brooke came up to me and approached me by tapping me on the shoulder," he said. "His words were 'excuse me, do you think you're Benji Marshall?

"I replied abruptly, 'no'.

"He then replied, 'I know Benji's wife.' I replied, 'So?"'

The man said that later in the evening, Howard-Smith asked for a photo with him - and next thing he knew, Howard-Smith was tweeting about a man impersonating Marshall, saying they even had the same tattoos.

The man was angry about the tweets.

"I just went to a bar for a quiet drink after work. There is no way I have been out in town every night. I have a family with a young baby and this has caused extreme stress and personal grief on all of us. I'm with my family, my partner and kids when I'm not working."

The man also contacted Marshall's manager Martin Tauber, who had been concerned about an impersonator, to reassure him.

"He was very happy to hear from us and thanked us for calling him. We told him that my partner and I get approached sometimes by people thinking I'm Benji and we always tell them I'm not. My partner and I were at the Sydney airport and a couple started to say, 'look, it's Benji'. We corrected them with a smile. I have had my tattoo on the top of my arm for 10 years." He added, "It was done by a family member and it is of my whakapapa. It would be ridiculous to suggest I got my tattoos to match Benji's."

The Marshalls have become the talk of Auckland's social scene since they arrived from Sydney late last year.

Benji Marshall made his first appearance for the Blues in a pre-season game last weekend, followed by a high-profile return to Sydney for a match-up against the Waratahs on Friday.

His glamorous wife Zoe debuted as host of The Great Food Race last Sunday night on TV3.

• The Herald on Sunday apologises for any suggestion the man had attempted to impersonate Benji Marshall.

- Herald on Sunday

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