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Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall offered $1m to play rugby in Japan
By Ray Chesterton - Daily Telegraph (NSW Metropolitan, 3 February 2009)

Big money...Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall has been offered $1m to play 12 games of rugby union in Japan. Picture: Gregg Porteous / The Daily Telegraph

PERHAPS the fiscal meltdown afflicting most of the world has not yet reached the corridors of Japan's rugby headquarters.

That is our only conclusion now that we can reveal Wests Tigers superstar Benji Marshall will be offered nearly $1 million to play a dozen rugby union games in the land of the rising sun.

Marshall may even go to Japan in the next couple of weeks for more intense negotiations.

Losing Marshall to Japan would continue the full-frontal attacks by overseas rugby union clubs that have already lured Mark Gasnier and Sonny Bill Williams to France.

Marshall's manager Martin Tauber confirmed Japan's interest in his client.

"I can't rule out the prospect of him playing over there," he said. "If you were going to play in Japan they'd want to have a look at you and you'd want to have a look at them."

Marshall, whose contract with the Tigers ends this season, is well advanced in talks to remain with the club. But a lucrative rugby deal in the off-season would boost his bank balance while allowing him to resume playing with the Tigers in 2010. Sources in Japan say interest in Marshall was piqued by a DVD sent by Tauber showing the five-eighth at his attacking best. Depending on how negotiations are structured, Marshall may miss the opening rounds of the 2010 NRL premiership to fulfil his Japan contract.

If his club was successful, Marshall could have to stay for the finals and miss up to three NRL rounds.

Sources in Japan say a contract offer to Marshall is only a formality. The deal will be worth close to a million dollars for about 12 games.

Marshall, according to his manager, is adamant he will not sign with any NRL club except the Tigers.

Tauber added the English Super League was not an issue either because of its financial uncertainty.| End

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