SYDNEY, July 17 (Reuters) - Former rugby league world player of the year Benji Marshall is in talks with two Super Rugby teams about making a switch to the 15-man code for next season, his manager told New Zealand media on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old, who captained New Zealand to their 2008 World Cup triumph, is looking to make the move after asking to be allowed to leave Sydney club Wests Tigers two years before the end of his contract.
The New South Wales Waratahs, who brought former Australia rugby league international Israel Folau to union with impressive results this year, have indicated their interest and manager Martin Tauber said the Auckland Blues were also in the frame.
“If he chose to go to the Waratahs, it would be because he doesn’t want to move or because of the opportunities in Sydney through television and goodness knows what else,” Tauber told New Zealand’s Radio Sport on Wednesday.
“But I‘m sure he could probably arrange and do (the same) if he made the call to live in Auckland.”
Although he has had a poor season by his standards, Marshall’s quick feet, sidestep and kicking skills have helped make him one of the highest profile players in National Rugby League (NRL).
Playing under John Kirwan at the Blues would open up the possibility of Marshall following Sonny Bill Williams in becoming a dual international by playing for the All Blacks - perhaps even in sevens at the 2016 Olympics.
“If he plays for the Waratahs, he won’t play for Australia,” Tauber added.
“That means his career, basically, would be a Super 15 contract and the possibility of overseas coaching or playing.”
The overseas spell looks likely to involve a stint in the lucrative Japanese league, where he would follow the likes of Williams and New Zealand centre Ma‘a Nonu. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O‘Brien)