Benji Marshall
Benji Marshall GETTY IMAGES

Who wants to holler for this Marshall?

AS WELL as trying to find room in their salary cap, Cronulla and Melbourne would have to compensate the Wests Tigers to secure the signature of failed rugby union convert Benji Marshall.

The 29-year-old yesterday confirmed he had been granted a release from the Auckland Blues Super Rugby franchise by the New Zealand Rugby Union, with the Sharks or Storm his most likely destination.

But while Wests Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer and chairman Mike Bailey said they didn't want to make things difficult for Marshall to return to the NRL, the club intended to enforce a clause in his release agreement which prohibits him from playing for a rival club until 2016.

They told Fairfax Media the Tigers would seek compensation similar to what the Bulldogs received for releasing Ben Barba to the Broncos at the end of last season before Marshall could sign with another NRL club.

The league's chief operating officer Jim Doyle said it would be great to see the Kiwis international back playing rugby league, adding any proposal from an NRL club would be considered, as long as the integrity of the salary cap was maintained.

While he acknowledged his ingrained rugby league instincts had hampered his ability to make the switch to rugby union, Marshall said he believed he had become a better player and person for the experience.

"I gave rugby a go and it didn't work out," he said.

"However, I feel like through being at the Blues I was able to find myself again, find some hunger ... get fit.

"On the field I certainly wanted to achieve more than how it panned out. It didn't go that way but in terms of life it did 100 per cent.

"The Blues gave me the opportunity to be myself and express myself and I feel like I'm leaving as a better player and a better person for it."

Auckland teammate Piri Weepu said he had enjoyed having Marshall at the club.

"He's been awesome, he's been great to have around the team and it's probably going to be sad to not have his cheeky comments on the field and in and out of the workplace," Weepu said.

Storm captain Cameron Smith said on Tuesday that Marshall would be a great replacement for Gareth Widdop who is now at the Dragons.

And Cronulla captain Paul Gallen threw his support behind the playmaker joining the Sharks yesterday, but with a condition.

Gallen told Sky Sports Radio: "For me, the only concern is the football.

"If he wants to come back and play rugby league and he still thinks he's got something to prove and offer and he's not just coming back for the money or to get back into the television side of things, well I've got no problem with him coming back."

The NSW Origin skipper said while Marshall had spent most of his NRL career in the halves, he could conceivably play in the centres or at fullback.



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