Benji hope shatters, Tigers’ ‘major gamble’
NRL legend Benji Marshall's hopes of an NRL contract for 2021 have been plunged into a desolate situation following a report his top hope Cronulla isn't interested.
Marshall's dwindling options to continue his career into one final season at a rival club headline a series of dramatic moves taking shape across the NRL player market.
It was reported this week the Sharks loomed as Marshall's most likely home for next year, but a contrasting report on Friday revealed Cronulla isn't looking at the veteran playmaker.
The Daily Telegraph's Dave Riccio told SEN Radio in Sydney the Sharks have instead focused on locking down 21-year-old halfback Braydon Trindall to join Chad Townsend and Shaun Johnson in a stacked playmaking roster. Johnson, however, will also miss part of the 2021 season through injury.
There may be no room for Marshall.
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The 35-year-old has also been linked with a move to the Cowboys and North Queensland now appears to be his final hope.
Marshall is still weighing up retirement, but could provide much needed experience to any club looking for a leader.
"As far as my intel is concerned the Sharks aren't heading down that path," Riccio told Breakfast with Vossy.
"I understand they're about to re-sign Braydon Trindall, their young half coming through the ranks and given that they already have Chad Townsend and Shaun Johnson at the club, I don't think Benji Marshall will be heading to the Shire."
Riccio also revealed the Sharks have emerged as a late player in the race for highly-fancied Panthers rising star Matt Burton, who has been linked to a rich offer from the Bulldogs.
According to reports, The Dogs have offered Burton a $1.6 million deal for 2022 and 2023 - and are hoping the Panthers will grant him an early release to join Canterbury for the 2021 season.
However, the Sharks could emerge late to snatch the playmaking utility.
"Interestingly, the Sharks are making a little play for Matt Burton," Riccio said.
"We all know the Bulldogs are in the box seat to pry Matt Burton out of Penrith, however, I understand the Sharks - as somewhat of a replacement for the off-contract Matt Moylan at the end of next year - Matt Burton is right on their radar."
'MAJOR GAMBLE IN TIGERS' ROBERTS DEAL
The Wests Tigers officially announced the signing of James Roberts on Thursday on a two-year deal.
The 27-year-old centre has his final chance in rugby league after being given an early release from his South Sydney contract on compassionate grounds earlier this month.
Roberts earlier this year admitted himself into a rehabilitation facility.
Despite the reported cheap price of his contract, the Tigers are still taking a "major gamble" by signing Roberts, according to The Daily Telegraph's David Riccio.
"I feel sorry for the Wests Tigers," Riccio said.
"The other 15 clubs that are tuning in right now, they've been in this position where they need to pay to take on a player because they're in this funk. They're in the re-build and they need to buy players that other clubs probably would't buy.
"James Roberts on his day is devastating, absolutely no doubt, one of the gun centres in the game. But it's few and far between. I think it's a major gamble on the Wests Tigers behalf.
"I appreciate there's a stack of clauses in his contract relating to behavioural issues. And it's a bottom dollar deal at around $160,00, I get it. And I understand why the Tigers have taken this punt, but I think it's a major gamble."
AGENT'S ROLE IN MESSY TIGERS DIVORCE
Mark Geyer has slammed Tigers prop Josh Aloiai and his management for trying to angle their way out of the club for a richer deal at the Sea Eagles.
Aloiai has been ordered back to training on November 30 and the Tigers won't release him until there is an advantageous outcome for the club.
Aloiai's manager also manages the man he is trying to replace at Manly.
"This is what is being alleged, Aloiai's manager also manages Addin Fonua-Blake who left the Sea Eagles in another dicey situation because Addin couldn't stay in Sydney for certain reasons," Ginnane said on Triple M.
"He signed with the Warriors on a lucrative deal, which is fine, but now Manly has got a hole.
"And it would be more beneficial to Aloiai and the manager if he went to Manly because he can sign for more money."
Geyer called for the Tigers and other clubs to sit players out in order to make a stand against player managers holding clubs to ransom.
"Sooner or later we are going to see a club draw a line in the sand," Geyer said.
"It seems the poor old Tigers are involved again. Ryan Matterson did the same thing last year.
"It won't stop until someone bites down on the mouthguard and says you are staying."
Originally published as Benji hope shatters, Tigers' 'major gamble'