16 Nov 2012

Marshall's bid to play big-money rugby in Japan ended

11:40 am on 16 November 2012

The Kiwis rugby league captain Benji Marshall has had his attempt to to play rugby union in Japan knocked on the head by his Wests Tigers team - denying him the opportunity to maximise his earning potential.

Marshall's agent Martin Tauber raised the possibility on Thursday that the Wests Tigers five-eighth might ask for a release from his contract which ends in 2015, to secure off-shore opportunities during the 2013-14 off-season.

But the Tigers - and the NRL - weren't keen.

A similar attempted move by Marshall at the end of 2009 was also blocked and as Marshall isn't off contract again until 2015, Tauber says the door might now be shut for good on a stint in Japan.

However, Tauber believes the NRL's registration of the code-hopping Sonny Bill Williams has set a precedent other players can pursue, and future moves to stop players jumping codes in the off-season might be a restraint of trade following the Williams precedent.

That could pave the way for a string of one-year deals between clubs and the game's biggest stars.

North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston heads the list of players who might have a big decision to make, with the Queensland and Test five-eighth off contract at the end of 2013.