9 Feb 2016

Marshall accepts NRL career in its twilight

5:13 pm on 9 February 2016

Former Kiwis captain Benji Marshall believes he has got two or three National Rugby League seasons left in him, but accepts he may not be with St George Illawarra beyond this year.

The Dragons' playmaker Benji Marshall.

Dragons' halfback Benji Marshall. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The halfback, who helped the Dragons to the NRL finals last season, is keen to stay but said he would not stand in the way of promising playmaker Drew Hutchison coming through.

Marshall admitted he was not confident of being offered a new deal and that there was a real possibility he would be asked to move on.

"In my situation, coming on 31, there's a lot of younger guys around the club that can lead this club in the future," he said.

"My priority is to stay here but I'm understanding that there might not be a chance of that happening, so my options are open and I'll put all the options out there to the wife."

Last year Marshall was once again overlooked in the New Zealand squad for the tour of England, as Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney looked to build for the future.

The Dragons have been linked with Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk who is off contract at the Storm and believed to be keen on a move to Sydney.

Wests Tigers veteran centre Chris Lawrence recently called for 2005 premiership-winning playmaker Marshall to return to the club, a possibility that he was open to.

"Obviously I've played 10-11 years at the Tigers [so] I'd never say no to anything," Marshall said.

"But at the moment I'm intent on trying to get a contract here [St George Illawarra] first and foremost and if that doesn't happen, I'll just weigh up all my options after that and try and decide."

Marshall labelled 20-year-old Hutchison, who appeared in last weekend's Auckland Nines, as the future of the club.

"I've had a lot to do with Drew over the last two years and his growth as a player. For me to be able to teach him a few things and watch him put that into practice, it makes me proud," he said.

"I'm a good friend of Drew's and he's definitely got a lot of talent and someone that the club can build their future around.

"As much as that would hinder what I'm going to do, I'll never get in the way of anyone or the club building their future around someone else."

Having recovered from an ankle injury that derailed their finals charge, Marshall will make his pre-season start alongside Hutchison in Saturday's Charity Shield clash against South Sydney at Homebush.

-AAP

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