SYDNEY (AFP) – New Zealand international standoff Benji Marshall, one of the superstars of Australia's National Rugby League, has sought an early release from his contract with Wests Tigers, the club said Monday.
Wests Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer said Marshall was seeking a release from the final two years of his contract, and reports linked him to a switch to Super Rugby.
Marshall has long been adamant that he would not play against the Tigers, which leaves Super Rugby as his likely destination, the reports said.
Auckland Blues coach John Kirwan has held talks with Marshall's manager Martin Tauber. But the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Tauber is expected to begin formal discussions with NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, .
Tauber stressed that Marshall did not have a deal confirmed with any rugby union outfit, the newspaper said.
The Herald said Marshall had previously told the newspaper of a possible switch of codes to rugby union: ''Growing up, it was a dream of mine to play for the All Blacks. That changed and I started playing rugby league. But I'll consider rugby union, absolutely.''
Mayer said Wests Tigers were "extremely disappointed" to receive the news.
"We believe that we have been exceptionally generous to a player that has given us wonderful service over a number of years,'' Mayer said in a statement.
"Benji has obviously made a decision that he believes is right for himself and his family. All we can do is thank him wholeheartedly for what he has done for not only the Club but the game as a whole."
Marshall, 28, has been the key playmaker for Wests Tigers since making his first-grade debut in 2003. He has gone on to play 93 matches for Wests Tigers and is its all-time leading points scorer.
Mayer said the board of the Wests Tigers would consider the release once the official notification is received.
"I would expect that this would be resolved relatively quickly,'' he said.