Benji Marshall moving to Super League has been a well-documented transfer rumour for years but it now seems to be closer than ever before. The agent associated with the New Zealand stalwart has confirmed he is eyeing up a move, which would attract unprecedented amounts of interest to the competition, but no offers have arisen yet. However, with the 35-year-old available on the market to clubs, who could be in for him?
Here are four potential destinations for the electrifying half-back.
Wigan’s half-back combination consists of Jackson Hastings and Thomas Leuluai but speculation surrounding their future has circulated.
Hastings played an integral role as Salford reached their first Super League Grand Final.
The Great Britain international sought pastures new and moved across Lancashire to link up with Wigan, where he signed a two-year contract until next year. However, it’s a well-known fact that his contract has an NRL clause, making a move back down under at the end of this year viable.
Speaking to Fox League in March, Hastings discussed this clause and his future aspirations: ‘If the opportunity does arise and it’s the right club I will definitely take it I think. It’s definitely something I want to do, the NRL is the pinnacle’ but also wants to ‘honour his contract’ with Wigan, meaning he may have a tough conundrum in the coming months.
Will we see Jackson Hastings back in the NRL?
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) March 24, 2020
Leuluai, who will celebrate his 35th birthday next week, is currently playing in the top-flight on a year-by-year basis.
Adrian Lam is quickly developing for the next generation with a number of developing stars, such as Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies and Oliver Partington, already signed up for approaching seasons. Tommy hasn’t elaborated on his retirement plans just yet but has previously stated he won’t put an end date on his career. But if it was to be at the end of the year, it could open the door for Marshall.
The Black and Whites probably wouldn’t have been on this list a few weeks ago but after Albert Kelly announced his departure back to Australia following the end of this season on Instagram, a substantial chunk of their salary cap has become free from next season onwards and a quota spot is now readily available.
Marshall’s phenomenal repertoire of skills could be the difference maker in crucial moments, and this alone would make him a worthwhile signing to go alongside an experienced side.
Currently, the Robins have a number of halfbacks but not one single dominant player.
Rovers have had a hefty squad shake-up recently, with twenty off-season captures recently making the move to East Hull but the majority of these are in the beginning stages of their career. Thus, it’s likely that Smith will be keeping his eye on the ever-increasing talent becoming available due to Southern Hemisphere clubs offloading names that they simply cannot afford as Covid-19 may have caused financial issues.
Marshall would be a perfect acquisition but would probably come at a hefty price. With both main half-backs off-contract after only signing one-year deals, negotiations could begin within the coming weeks but it won’t be an easy task for Rovers to capture the veteran. A magnitude of well-known names who desire a move to Super League often face offers from various clubs, which makes his next destination difficult to predict.
Salford Red Devils
We all remember Salford’s memorable journey to the Super League Grand Final, where they defeated some of the competition’s elite sides. However, to Salford, it was more than just a finals appearance. It’s an undeniable fact that their surprising success brought a mammoth media presence to the local area meaning a vast number of new first-time supporters. This has no doubt boosted the club’s financial position.
So much so that Ian Watson admitted earlier this year that the club was considering a move into the marquee market, which would surely open them up to the possibility of signing Marshall.
They currently have Kevin Brown and Tui Lolohea but Brown is only contracted to the end of the year.
Marshall brings similar qualities to Brown including an excellent game brain and a plethora of tactical kicking decisions but Benji has a wealth of experience and is still cutting it in the NRL.