Melbourne has emerged as a possible new home for former Wests Tigers superstar Benji Marshall after his exit from Super Rugby.
Melbourne is shaping as a last chance saloon for Benji Marshall as other clubs shy away from offering the fallen superstar an NRL lifeline.
Stand-in coach Andrew McFadden appeared to rule out the Warriors as a likely landing place for Marshall on Tuesday, which could leave just the Storm and Cronulla in the running for the services of the former Wests Tigers ace.
Cronulla continue to assert that they have not had any discussions with Marshall or his management, while McFadden says of the code-hopper: “He’s a high quality player but he’s probably not what we need right now.
“We’ve got our own things to work on and although it’s disappointing for Benji for sure, I think he’ll find somewhere to go. But at this stage we’ve got other things to focus on.”
Marshall struggled to adjust to the 15-a-side code and the former Kiwi Test skipper has instructed his manager to open talks with NRL clubs after requesting an immediate release from his Super Rugby contract with the Blues on Monday.
Storm captain Cameron Smith spoke glowingly of Marshall at training on Tuesday and while the club says money is a problem it has not ruled out making a play for him.
“I’d welcome the idea of Benji coming back because he’s a wonderful footballer and he’s a great asset to rugby league because a lot of young kids and mums and dads, they love Benji and they turn up to matches just to watch him play,” Smith said.
“I’m not sure what position we’re in financially to have a guy like Benji here but we’ve put a lot of faith in the guys that we’ve got here at the moment, so I’m not too sure what the position of the club is.
“I’ll just say that I’d welcome Benji back with open arms into our game, whichever club he decides to come back to.”
Melbourne have struggled to adapt to the departure of five-eighth Gareth Widdop to St George Illawarra and Marshall’s freestyling approach could make him a good foil in the halves for the structured Cooper Cronk.
“He’s a similar style player to what Gareth Widdop was at our club and I think any club at the moment looking for a half would be looking at Benji,” Smith said.
“But as I said we’ve invested a lot of time in guys like Ben Hampton and Ben Roberts.”
But it appears the Warriors can’t be completely ruled out.
Marshall reportedly bought a house in Auckland recently and his wife is said to be settled in the New Zealand hub with a burgeoning media career.
Marshall would be a very bankable face of the struggling franchise and reports out of New Zealand say Eric Watson is interested in the idea of bringing the star playmaker to his side.