Conversation between Benji Marshall and Wayne Bennett led to Broncos offer

BENJI Marshall will formally sign with the Broncos within 48 hours after being talked out of retirement by Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett.

Marshall’s manager Martin Tauber revealed how a heart-to-heart with Bennett saved his NRL career, with the veteran playmaker telling the super coach: “I don’t want to retire.”

Bennett’s lifeline to Marshall is genuine with Brisbane’s recruitment-and-retention committee to rubberstamp a contract offer by Friday.

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The 31-year-old will ink the basic fulltime deal, worth around $100,000-a-season, immediately, sealing his move to Queensland for a season of redemption in Broncos colours in 2017.

Bennett is taking one of his biggest recruitment gambles by signing Marshall but Tauber said money came secondary to the former Kiwi Test skipper’s desire to prove he is not a spent force.

Asked if Marshall will join the Broncos, Tauber said: “The deal will be done, yes.

“Benji will receive a contract from the Broncos in the next 24 to 48 hours and he will sign it.

“He desperately wants to continue his career at the Broncos.

“Whether it’s a one-year or two-year deal we’re not sure, maybe there will be an option (for a second season), but either way he’ll be moving to Brisbane.

“If he had his way, Benji would play another two or three years. Guys like Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith (Melbourne trio) are playing well into their 30s.

“This is not about the money, it’s about the opportunity and Benji’s desire to play on.

“In his words, he said he’s not ready to retire.”

A veteran of 255 NRL games, Marshall is viewed as a possible left centre following the retirement of Jack Reed.

Reed’s replacement late last season, rookie Tom Opacic, could miss the start of the 2017 premiership due to two shoulder operations that will sideline him for five months.

Bennett’s interest in Marshall only developed in recent days after the off-contract Dragons playmaker phoned him to seek the coach’s counsel as he weighed up his future.

“Benji actually rang Wayne for some career advice and that’s when the conversation turned to well what are you going to do Benji,” Tauber said.

“Benji said, ‘I’m not sure, I’m just looking for an opportunity’ and that’s where it all began.

“Wayne gave Benji some advice and that’s when the conversation turned. That’s what began the contract discussions.

“Wayne Bennett has a huge regard for Benji, he wrote the foreword to his book and always said he would like to coach him.

“By the end of the week, we’re expecting a firm contract offer in Benji’s hands.

“This is a good move. Wayne is a great coach and Benji would bring the quality of leadership and mentoring to Brisbane’s young players.

“He is a great ambassador for rugby league and he will do well in that regard for the Broncos.”