ARU interest in Benji if he plays for Wallabies
Australia is interested in the prospect of former rugby league world player of the year Benji Marshall coming over to the 15-man game but there is no signing imminent, Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said today.
The 28-year-old five eighth, has signalled his interest in making the switch after having his request to leave Sydney club Wests Tigers two years before the end of his contract granted.
''Benji's an intriguing prospect, who seems to have made it clear he's leaving rugby league,'' Pulver told a news conference.
''He's looking at options in Australia and New Zealand so, yeah, there's some interest there.
''I know there's some dialogue in both Australia and New Zealand but I have no new news in terms of where those discussions are.''
The Blues are favourites to sign the New Zealander, according to his personal manager, but thes Waratahs have also expressed an interest.
Marshall captained New Zealand to the 2008 rugby league World Cup triumph and his manager has said that he has no interest in representing the Wallabies should he decide to stay in Australia.
That, Pulver said, means the ARU would not top up his salary, as they do with other high profile international players.
''The ARU would only put money into a player like Benji if he was doing something at a national level,'' he said.
''He's eligible, but would he play?"
If Marshall did join the Waratahs, he would be likely to play alongside fellow league convert Israel Folau who made a sensational impact in his first season in union.
Australian media reports today said Folau was set to commit to another two years in union but Pulver, while confident the winger would sign, said he was still waiting for confirmation.
''I'm delighted to see all the positive speculation this morning and I am conscious of dialogue going on but I have not seen a signed contract,'' he said. ''I have been waiting for weeks so I'm hoping it's imminent, but it's not done.''