Farah says Benji is going nowhere
June 28, 2013 - 2:53PM
Darren Walton - SMH
Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah has moved to allay fears that Benji Marshall may be on the move, insisting the NRL superstar isn’t going anywhere.
Not for at least two-and-a-half seasons anyway.
Marshall’s ongoing contract negotiations have become one of the league’s biggest sagas, with speculation even coming this week that the former Golden Boot winner could be switching codes to join the NSW Waratahs.
Farah, though, insists Marshall is staying put.
“It’s kind of been blown out of proportion a bit,” the NSW State of Origin star said on Friday.
"He’s still here for another two years. He’s not off contract at the end of the year.
"So regardless of what happens, Benji is here `til 2015 so it’s a long time away, and hopefully for a lot longer than that.
“But regardless of the contract situation - hopefully it gets sorted - but he’s here for another couple of years and hopefully we can have some success together.”
Farah and Marshall are the heart and soul of the Tigers, the fans’ twin favourites, and the skipper admitted he’d taken the champion playmaker aside to offer some friendly advice.
Teammate Chris Lawrence this week claimed the situation must be playing on Marshall’s mind as he looks to settle his future, but Farah said the Kiwi international was holding up strongly.
“He’s fine,” Farah said.
"I try not to, I guess, bug him too much about it. I don’t want to intrude into what’s going on.
"But as I said to Benji, that will all take care of itself and that is what his manager is there for.
"I went through it at the start of the year and my contract kind of dragged out over the summer.
"You get asked questions about it left, right and centre and I think the best thing to do in those situations, what I’ve learnt from experience, is just focus on footy.
“That’s all you can worry about and control. The rest will take care of itself.”
Marshall, who admits his form has been below his lofty standards in 2013, wants to remain a Tiger for life.
Farah hopes so too.
“I’ve played my whole career with Benji and I hope it continues to be that way,” he said.
Farah’s encouraging words and impending return for his first club game since round 11 are a huge boost for the second last-placed Tigers on the eve of their must-win hosting of Melbourne at Leichhardt Oval.
Lawrence admits the Tigers have already switched to finals football mode, saying they can’t afford to drop any more games if they wish to make the playoffs.
While coach Mick Potter on Friday was reluctant to look that far ahead, he challenged Marshall to raise his game against the reigning premiers, who will be without Queensland captain Cameron Smith, who is out with a facial injury, and Gareth Widdop, who has suffered a possible season ending dislocated hip.
“Benji is always key for the Wests Tigers,” Potter said.
"He’s been performing very well for us and he’s just got to maintain that form and maybe even get a little better if he can.
"He plays an integral part in the team and what we do. His kicking game and his ability to help the team around the park, him and Curtis (Sironen) I think do a real good job.
“And having Robbie back is only going to help.”
But Marshall’s agent, Martin Tauber, responded by telling Fairfax Media: ''That’s just something Robbie has said. We’ve not said anything. It is true he is contracted for '13, ‘14, ‘15. Wests Tigers have made an offer of an upgrade and we’ll respond to that in the next seven to 10 days.’’
Pretty blunt response from Benji’s manager.
Clock is ticking for Marshall to decide future role at Tigers
June 29, 2013
Rugby League Writer
Benji Marshall is set to decide on his future within a matter of weeks after his management held fresh talks with Wests Tigers officials on Friday.
The latest talks around an upgrade of Marshall’s contract were described as ‘‘positive’’ by manager Martin Tauber, who reiterated that his client would not play against the Tigers. Marshall, though, has been linked to a move to rugby union in recent weeks.
The Kiwi’s present deal expires at the end of 2015 but he has a clause allowing for a renegotiation after any increase in the salary cap. Tigers officials forwarded an offer last week, and discussions on Friday with chief operating officer Grant Mayer and director Danny Stapleton centred on whether those terms would be enough to keep him.
‘‘I met again with the club, which was positive,’’ Tauber said. ‘‘They’re obviously very keen to keep Benji in the fold. I haven’t spoken to him in great detail because I want him to focus on his game, not only [Saturday] night [against Melbourne] but also the next few weeks. But they were genuine conversations I had with the club. Benji is aware of that.’’
Marshall is now expected to decide on his future after taking a few days off over the bye weekend of round 18. But Tauber stressed that Marshall had told him he would not play for another NRL club. That suggests his future will either be with the Tigers or in rugby union.
‘‘It’s always been said by him, and he’s told the club, that if ever he leaves he would never play against them,’’ Tauber said. ‘‘He has had a loyalty to the fan base, his teammates and the sponsors since he’s been at the club. He loves the club.’’
Marshall’s contract negotiations have come with the Tigers having launched a mini recovery, having won three out of their past four matches. Tigers skipper Robbie Farah said he did not believe the continuing discussions would be a distraction for the squad.
‘‘I’ve played my whole career with Benji and I hope it continues to be that way,’’ he said. ‘‘I try not to, I guess, bug him too much about it. I don’t want to intrude into what’s going on. But as I said to Benji, that will all take care of itself and that is what his manager is there for.’’
The Tigers on Saturday night will play a Melbourne side without their skipper Cameron Smith. Farah, Smith’s opposing hooker, will play his first match for the Tigers since before Origin II against the Storm at Leichhardt Oval.
‘‘I haven’t been around the boys for a while so it’s good to be back here,’’ Farah said. ’
‘They had a great win last week against the Raiders, which me and Aaron [Woods, the Tigers’ fellow NSW representative] watched and we’re really proud of the boys.
‘‘I know we’re both keen to get back here. We’re both local boys here at Leichhardt … it’s a big occasion for us and we can’t wait to get out there. It’s a place that we enjoy playing at, so it’s not hard to come back here and get up for a game, especially against the Storm.’’
Tigers coach Mick Potter challenged Marshall to let his football do the talking.
‘‘Benji is always key for the Wests Tigers,’’ Potter said. ''He’s been performing very well for us and he’s just got to maintain that form and maybe even get a little better if he can.
‘‘He plays an integral part in the team and what we do. His kicking game and his ability to help the team around the park, him and Curtis [Sironen] I think do a real good job. And having Robbie back is only going to help.’’
For Melbourne, Smith will miss the clash at Leichhardt Oval after a cut below his right eye suffered in Origin II required plastic surgery. Ryan Hinchcliffe is almost certain to start in his place.
Storm football manager Frank Ponissi said a decision on who would start for Smith - with Hinchcliffe switching from lock - had yet to be made. An extra reserve is also needed; coach Craig Bellamy has 19 players in camp for rounds 15 and 16.
Ponissi said scans next week would determine whether there was any hope at all of five-eighth Gareth Widdop (dislocated hip) playing in the finals and World Cup. “It’s looking very doubtful,” he said.
Have no idea why Tigers management wld feel compelled to negotiate a new contract with Benji when .
a)His current contract doesnt expire for 2.5 yrs
b)His value add to the team has irreversibly declined significantly in just 18 months,and
c)We have 2 of the brightest halves prospects up & coming,+ Sirro,none of whom are guaranteed but all of whom you cld buy & get spare change from a new Benji contract.
Surely the Board isnt that naive-Benji has no bargaining position in NRL orAust/NZ Rugby whotsover…his sole option is Jap Rugby,& thats a big maybe indeed
Lets at least learn something from the numerous recent recruitment & retention gaffs,& work with him but dont acquiesce because of his past reputation & set us up for future failure