Marshall linked to Rebels
Sydney - Three Super Rugby franchises have indicated their interest in enticing National Rugby League superstar Benji Marshall to switch codes with Melbourne Rebels the latest linked to him, reports said on Thursday.
The management of the Wests Tigers' playmaker reportedly contacted the Rebels six weeks ago to gauge their interest in the New Zealand Test star.
News Limited newspapers said the Rebels have insisted the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) must make the first move before they can consider signing Marshall.
Marshall, 28, who this week sought a release two years early from his Wests Tigers contract, is said to be keen to play rugby union and has already been been linked to the Waratahs and the Blues.
"Just like other big name league players in the past... it appears that that's where the discussion is at the moment," Rebels chief executive Rob Clarke told News Limited.
"I've obviously said that, depending on the outcome of those discussions, then the Rebels would be open-minded but, really, that's all that's been done at this point in time."
Blues coach John Kirwan said he had spoken to Marshall about playing rugby in New Zealand.
"He's a guy who is excited about the next stage of his professional career," Kirwan told Fairfax Media this week.
"It didn't get down to whether we were a part of his mix. What I got out of the conversation was he was genuinely thinking about changes in his life."
The Sydney-based Waratahs said they were also interested in the crowd-pulling potential of Marshall.
"We've been chatting with his manager now for a couple of years and we are definitely interested in bringing Benji Marshall to the Waratahs," Waratahs chief executive Jason Allen said.
However, he made it clear the Waratahs' biggest immediate priorities were retaining league convert Israel Folau and signing free agent, Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale.
"There could be a slight opportunity but there are a lot of things that need to fall into place and come our way with Benji Marshall," said Allen.
"We've got some very big decisions pending with Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale and they are our priorities right now.
"But we can't close the door just yet."