Benji Marshall could join Cronulla this week

Benji Marshall

Reports suggest NRL outfit Cronulla Sharks are close to landing the signature of New Zealand legend Benji Marshall, who had a contract with rugby union outfit Auckland Blues terminated earlier this week.

The 29-year-old, who failed to make an impression after switching codes from Wests Tigers last summer, has been linked with several NRL clubs – and even Salford Red Devils in Super League – but the Canberra Times claim the Sharks have the upper hand. Rest assured, though, he won’t come cheap.

That’s because the 25-time Kiwi international, who spent 10 years with the Tigers, has a clause in his contract that stipulates he cannot play for another NRL club until 2016. Wests have agreed to waive this, but will be expecting a hefty transfer fee in return.

Tigers CEO Grant Mayer said: “We are more than happy to have Benji Marshall playing Rugby League in the NRL in 2014 and beyond. We believe he has got a lot to offer and has a special place in the heart of the Wests Tigers.

“Unfortunately when he made his decision last year we moved on from a salary cap point of view and we believe we’ve [invested] wisely in our youth. That said, we believe he has a lot to offer any club that’s prepared to pay market value because of his marketing appeal and ability as a footballer. It’s important we don’t stand in the way of him playing football.

“The reality is any club that signs with Benji Marshall will enjoy a spike in a whole range of different commercial areas. We need to make sure we protect the interests of this club by negotiating a commercial settlement in the next year and a half. That could come in many forms, from cash to contra.”

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