Benji Marshall's failed rugby union experiment is likely to cost him $2 million, with the former Kiwi International set to return to Australia as soon as tomorrow to finalise a budget conscious NRL comeback.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Marshall turned his back on a three-year extension worth $2.1 million - on top of a lucrative television deal with Channel Nine - when he quit Wests Tigers last season. Marshall is now weighing up interest from Cronulla and Melbourne, but any new deal for 2014/15 requires a clearance from his former club.
It's understood Tigers officials are eying a share of gate takings from their Round 10 clash against Cronulla at Remondis Stadium as compensation, should Marshall accept a three-year offer from the Sharks.
But whatever deal Marshall settles-on will not come remotely close to what he would have earned by sticking with the Tigers or rugby.
His Super 15 contract at the Auckland Blues was worth about $1 million over two years, with commercial endorsements delivering another $1 million over the same period.
With just over two months left until the 30 June transfer deadline, Marshall will be forced to return on minimal pay - perhaps as low as $60,000 - for the remainder of this year. Future years in an extended contract will be far more valuable, but still unlikely to rival the average $700,000 salary he was offered at Wests Tigers.
Marshall's agent, Martin Tauber, is understood to have shopped the ex-Kiwi International to Canterbury, which has $400,000 to spend on this year's cap thanks to Ben Barba's release. The Bulldogs are also on the look-out for a fullback to replace Barba, and Tauber has talked-up the 29-year-old's ability to switch from his customary halves role.
But sources close to the Bulldogs have suggested coach Des Hasler is not interested.
Announcing his departure from the Blues in Auckland yesterday, Marshall maintained he'd not commenced official negotiations with any NRL club.
He did, however, make contact with Sharks winger Beau Ryan, a close friend from the Tigers, several weeks ago. That phone call triggered Cronulla's interest in signing Marshall, and it's also understood at least one Sharks official has spoken to Wests about the compensation requirements.
Sources close to Marshall yesterday said he would return Australia by the end of the week to start meeting interested clubs.