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Axed Marshall shopped to rival clubs for this season

Those clubs include the Cowboys and Storm, as well as the Sea Eagles as a potential replacement for the injured Dylan Walker.

Melbourne have since lost five-eighth Cameron Munster for up to six weeks with a knee injury he suffered in Friday night’s win over the New Zealand Warriors. Saturday night’s calf injury to Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses may also provide an avenue at the Eels, especially given the lack of depth in the club’s halves.

Michael Maguire dropped six players before round five, including Benji Marshall, in an effort to shake-up the side after an underwhelming start to the season's resumption.

Michael Maguire dropped six players before round five, including Benji Marshall, in an effort to shake-up the side after an underwhelming start to the season’s resumption.Credit:AAP

Parramatta’s general manager of football, Mark O’Neill, is a former teammate and close friend of Marshall, who could shift into the No.14 role when Moses returns later in the year.

While Marshall is desperate to fight his way back into the Tigers team after his shock axing following the round four loss to the Titans, he may potentially have 13 matches remaining in his career and could be presented with an ultimatum by his manager in the coming weeks.

The NRL has pushed back its traditional June 30 player transfer deadline until August 3, leaving Marshall with up to a month to make a decision should he feel the need to explore options elsewhere.

It’s unlikely the Tigers would be happy for Marshall to leave, but few would begrudge the 35-year-old for wanting to finish his career on the field rather than on the sidelines.

Benji Marshall training with Josh Reynolds.

Benji Marshall training with Josh Reynolds.Credit:Getty

The Tigers are under no obligation to release him, especially given their lack of depth in the halves, but it could make for a delicate conversation should Marshall be convinced he should finish his career at another club.

If Marshall isn’t selected in the Tigers team for Saturday night’s clash against the Panthers, speculation over his immediate future is expected to intensify.

Marshall’s attitude since he was dropped hasn’t been questioned at the club, which earlier in the season was contemplating offering the New Zealand captain a one-year extension for 2021.

When he was dropped, Marshall was sitting equal second on the Dally M leaderboard with two man-of-the-match performances in the opening four weeks.

The 300-gamer has previously played for St George Illawarra and Brisbane after a stint with the Auckland Blues following his departure from the Tigers at the end of 2013.

Nine sidelines Fox

Some may have noticed that Fox Sports hasn’t had a commentator on the sideline for all eight matches since the competition returned a month ago, often without a pitch-side presence for the Nine simulcast games.

That’s not due to any restrictions … yet. From next year, Nine will enforce its right to block the pay TV provider from having a reporter on the sideline for its three matches each week. Nine requested a number of cost-sharing production options during negotiations, but Fox weren’t willing to play ball. So the league’s free-to-air partner will have exclusive access to the sidelines from next year.

Flash Harry may stay at Storm

It’s common knowledge there’s a clause in the Storm contract of on-loan Wests Tigers hooker Harry Grant that allows him to leave Melbourne next year should Cameron Smith decide to play on.

Don’t be surprised if Melbourne look at a way to hold on to his services, even if the veteran hooker plays on in 2021. There’s some thought being given to moving Smith to halfback next year, just to ensure they don’t lose the player many are tipping as the best young dummy half in the business.

Smith at halfback and Grant at No.9 would also see Brandon Smith continue to play big minutes off the bench.

False alarms


The NRL has blamed a technical glitch for a number of false set restart sirens going off at Bankwest Stadium during the Eels-Raiders clash on Saturday night. There were three “phantom sirens” during the match which required a reset of the operating system during the match.

NRL keen to get new CBA signed

The NRL held a phone hook-up with club chief executives last week about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the players.

The NRL told the clubs it hopes to have the revised CBA finished by the end of July to provide clarity around the game’s finances for 2021 and beyond.

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