Wests Tigers coach Michael Potter says he tried to talk Benji Marshall out of quitting the NRL, quashing reports that a feud between the pair fuelled the star playmaker’s request for a release.
Marshall on Thursday recorded a video message explaining to fans his decision to request a release from the final two years of his contract with the club.
He said the decision was based on what was best for his family, and came after a handshake agreement for a new four-year contract with the Tigers hand not been honoured.
But it was also believed a feud with Potter – who dumped Marshall to the bench for the heavy round 10 loss to South Sydney – had added to the champion five-eighth’s desire to pursue a career in rugby union in 2014.
“For me there’s no real issue,” Potter said.
“I don’t know where it’s been generated from that there’s been an issue.
“I do what’s best for the team and Benji’s a big part of what we do.
“In the end I don’t have to be Benji’s best friend.
“I did (try to talk him out of leaving) but what I did say is Benji’s got to do what’s right for Benji.
“We’d put what we thought was a substantial offer to him with (acting chief executive) Grant Mayer.
“I wasn’t privy to what went on before that but clearly it wasn’t right for Benji because he’s decided that he’s seeking release.”
Marshall declined to talk to the media on Thursday, instead opting for a club-sanctioned video message in a bid to appease fans who may have been set to express their disenchantment with the one-time favourite son at Friday night’s clash against the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval.
He reiterated his stance that he would not play for another NRL club and discussed the possibility of returning to the club in some capacity once his playing days are over.
“At the end of the day, Tigers is my home and will always be home,” Marshall said.
“The decision that I had to make was based upon what I thought was best for myself and what I thought was best for my family and what I thought was best for the club also.
“We’ve got a lot of up and coming young halves coming through the ranks, and with me out of the way it definitely makes it easier to keep guys like Luke Brooks and Mitchell Mosses and a few others.”
Potter admitted Marshall’s struggle to find top form had eased the pain of his impending departure.
“You’d like to think that you’re indispensable and Benji to a degree has made himself that, but there’s always younger guys coming through,” Potter said.
“That’s what’s going to have to happen, is one of the younger brigade are going to have to step up into that breach.
“It’s hard to replace Benji Marshall, there’s no-one that plays like Benji Marshall and he’s really built himself up as a legend of the club.”