Decision on Benji Marshall in next few weeks

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 12:20 01/07/2013
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Benji Marshall
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SET TO SWITCH? Benji Marshall is said to be unhappy in rugby league and considering a switch to rugby union.

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Benji Marshall is expected to decide during his club's July 6-18 bye period whether to accept an upgraded offer from Wests Tigers or set his sights on playing in the next Rugby World Cup and Olympics.

Marshall, who has received an approach from Super Rugby side the Blues to switch codes and return to New Zealand, intends to make a call before the June 19 clash with the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval.

After playing a leading role in the Tigers' best win of the season, against Melbourne, he wants to focus on Friday's clash with Cronulla and will then spend the following two weeks considering his future.

What decision he will make is unclear. Marshall has seemed happier in recent weeks as the Tigers recorded back-to-back wins over Canberra and Melbourne to move within two points of the top eight.

The recent run of success, which means the Tigers have won four of their past five matches, has also shored up the position of coach Mick Potter, whose future was being questioned by some within the club after seven consecutive losses.

At the time, the Tigers had been decimated by injuries and Marshall was struggling for form - prompting concerns about whether Potter was the right man for the job, particularly after his decision to bench Marshall against Souths.

''I am not denying that we have been through a very bad patch and I am not denying the fact that when you go through a bad patch the most vulnerable person is the coach, but we are talking about past history,'' Wests Tigers chairman Mike Bailey said.

''We are talking about how bad we went for seven weeks in a row, and I have got to say that I was biting my nails ahead of the game against the Cowboys thinking 'not another loss' but we turned it around there and we have continued to build on that.

"At that time I was worried - not just about the coach but the whole business - but since then we have been on an upward and onward situation.''

Potter addressed the Tigers board last Thursday night and there was no discussion at the meeting about the possibility he may not see out his two-year contract.

''We were hopeful at that stage that we would beat Melbourne, we have beaten Melbourne and I think that should put to bed some of the rumours and stories that may have been around during that bad patch we suffered,'' Bailey said.

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Fairfax Media was told that even when the Tigers were at rock bottom those prepared to consider sacking a second coach within a year would not have the support to do so.

Not only are the Tigers still paying Tim Sheens, but officials are also mindful of falling into the same boom-bust cycle as Parramatta, who have had four coaches in the past six seasons.

Marshall was unhappy about being dropped to the bench for the round-10 clash with Souths but Fairfax Media was told he had never suggested to any Tigers official that Potter should be sacked.

However, he is disappointed that a proposed contract extension until 2017 is no longer on the table and the Tigers are now only offering him an upgrade on the remaining two years of his current deal.

The Tigers have boom halves Luke Brookes and Mitchell Moses coming through the ranks but their dilemma is that the 28-year-old Marshall may not hang around.

Marshall's manager Martin Tauber received a new offer for an upgraded contract last Friday but the Tigers are competing with the lure of a Rugby World Cup and playing sevens for New Zealand at the 2016 Olympic Games.

'Benji is contracted with the club until the end of 2015,'' Tigers chief operating officer Grant Mayer said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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