Marshall scratching for a new job

By Steve Deane, staff reporters

Benji Marshall's decision leaves a question mark over the career of  wife Zoe, who joined ZM as a radio host less than three months ago. Photo / APN
Benji Marshall's decision leaves a question mark over the career of wife Zoe, who joined ZM as a radio host less than three months ago. Photo / APN

Benji Marshall is heading back to Sydney after one of the greatest flops in a sporting switch.

After just eight months - and 212 minutes of playing time - Marshall's rugby experiment with the Auckland-based Blues is over.

Last night, he began planning a move back to league.

His agent, Martin Tauber, confirmed Marshall planned to return to Sydney shortly. "He is coming back to Sydney to try again to go back to an NRL club but we have had no chats, no negotiations, nothing. We are back to scratch."

Last night, 14 of the 16 NRL clubs ruled out an approach for Marshall.

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Mr Tauber said the player was unlikely to conduct immediately any interviews about his departure from the Blues.

"He is just not up to it. This is a hell of a decision for him. The boy has had a torrid couple of days with this."

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan refused to comment last night, citing contractual obligations, but Marshall's failure to turn up at training yesterday morning signalled the end of his time in Auckland.

It is understood the 29-year-old decided to seek a release from his contract after a meeting with Kirwan during which it was suggested that he either play the rest of the season in the lower tiers to help prepare him for the 2015 Super Rugby competition or return to rugby league.

Marshall's signing last August was trumpeted as a coup for club and player - but last night, both the struggling Blues and Marshall were trying to figure out a future without each other.

It also leaves in limbo Marshall's wife, Zoe, who joined ZM as an afternoon radio host less than three months ago. The Radio Network was last night aware that Marshall was "in talks" with the Blues.

Chief content officer Dean Buchanan told the Herald he spoke to Zoe Marshall last night and would be waiting to "see how it played out".

"Zoe is a great talent and she's embraced New Zealand and New Zealand has embraced her," he said.

"Regardless of how it plays out, we'll support her and Benji and stand by them in the same way they've stood by and made the most of New Zealand."

Mr Buchanan could not comment on Zoe Marshall's contract and whether her departure would be legally problematic.

The outside chance of a move to the Warriors seems unlikely as Warriors legends Monty Betham and Awen Guttenbeil last night warned the club off Benji Marshall.

"I think that would be the biggest mistake in the club's history," said Guttenbeil, who played 170 matches for the club between 1996 and 2006.

"Benji Marshall is a brand in himself and I don't think the Warriors need that in their environment."

Betham said Marshall's form had already faded "hugely" in his last couple of years in the NRL.

"The thing that hasn't faded is the money he is on. That seems to be quite substantial."

Warriors ambassador Sir Peter Leitch said Marshall's biggest mistake was saying that he wouldn't play for any other league club than the Tigers.

"I am gutted for him and the Blues. He went to rugby, it hasn't worked and now he'll have to reconsider."

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah did not return Herald calls yesterday.

Glittering career

Name: Benjamin Quentin Marshall
Age: 29
Born: Whakatane
NRL career: Played 201 games for Wests Tigers between 2003 and 2013, scoring 76 tries. Helped Tigers to the 2005 NRL premiership
Kiwis: 25 tests between 2005 and 2012. Scored the winning try in the Kiwis 2008 World Cup triumph.
Rugby: Signed for Blues in late 2013. Appeared in eight matches, starting just one and scoring one try.

Where will Benji go?


The Sydney Daily Telegraph on each NRL club's first-choice halves combination and whether they are interested in signing Marshall.

BRONCOS
Five-eighth: Josh Hoffman
Halfback: Ben Hunt
CEO Paul White: "No."

BULLDOGS
Five-eighth: Josh Reynolds
Halfback: Trent Hodkinson
CEO Raelene Castle: ``No"

RAIDERS
Five-eighth: Jack Wighton
Halfback: Terry Campese
Coach Ricky Stuart: "Not us".

COWBOYS
Five-eighth: Johnathan Thurston
Halfback: Robert Lui
CEO Peter Jourdain: "No."

TITANS
Five-eighth: Aidan Sezer
Halfback: Albert Kelly
CEO Graham Annesley: "No."

SEA EAGLES
Five-eighth: Kieran Foran
Halfback: Daly Cherry-Evans
CEO David Perry: "No interest".

STORM
Five-eighth: Ben Hampton/Ben Roberts
Halfback: Cooper Cronk
Football director Frank Ponissi: "Benji would be a great addition but there is one problem - $$"

KNIGHTS
Five-eighth: Jarrod Mullen
Halfback: Tyrone Roberts
CEO Matt Gidley: "No. He is not in our recruitment plans."

EELS
Five-eighth: Corey Norman
Halfback: Chris Sandow/Luke Kelly
CEO Scott Seward: "No."

PANTHERS
Five-eighth: Jamie Soward
Halfback: Peter Wallace
CEO Phil Moss: "No interest"

RABBITOHS
Five-eighth: Luke Keary/John Sutton
Halfback: Adam Reynolds
CEO: Shane Richardson: "Absolutely no interest whatsoever".

SHARKS
Five-eighth: Todd Carney
Halfback: Jeff Robson
CEO Steve Noyce: "We haven't had any discussions with Benji or his management".

DRAGONS
Five-eighth: Gareth Widdop
Halfback: Michael Witt/Sam Williams
CEO Peter Doust "We have no interest in Benji".

ROOSTERS
Five-eighth: James Maloney
Halfback: Mitchell Pearce
COO Brian Canavan: "We're very happy with our halves and have both locked in to long-term arrangements with the club."

WARRIORS
Five-eighth: Chad Townsend/Thomas Leuluai
Halfback: Shaun Johnson
CEO Wayne Scurrah did not return calls.

TIGERS
Five-eighth: Curtis Sironen
Halfback: Luke Brooks
CEO Grant Mayer: "There's no room in our top 25 for Benji Marshall next year."

- NZ Herald

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