It's not often State of Origin deciders take a back seat 24 hours before kick-off, but Benji Marshall's request for a release from the final two years of his Wests Tigers contract has sent shockwaves around the NRL.
Tigers skipper Robbie Farah admitted he was stunned by Marshall's decision and Tigers' acting CEO Grant Mayer had been expecting the 28-year-old to sign a new contract this week.
Marshall announced his decision on Monday night after his advisors failed to agree on terms of a new deal with the Tigers board - who've yet to accept his request.
The Kiwi playmaker's manager Martin Tauber said his client needed to move from the Tigers to rediscover his mojo and had sounded out the NSW Waratahs' league convert Israel Folau about playing the 15-man game.
Waratahs chief executive Jason Allen almost immediately expressed an interest in signing Marshall with the Auckland Blues also believed to be interested.
"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," Allen said.
"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."
Mayer said the Tigers had honoured their side of an agreement made by his predecessor Stephen Humphreys by offering the playmaker an upgraded deal.
"I think Benji is looking at his long-term future and he has that right," Mayer said.
"He clearly had that opportunity this year to sit down and seek a regrade of his deal. It obviously hasn't hit the numbers or hit the expectation that he had.
"The former CEO gave his manager a letter of commitment that he would regrade his contract once the new TV deal was done and we've honoured that commitment."
However, Tauber indicated it was short of what had been formally agreed to by Humphreys.
"The protracted negotiations began in January and here we are in July and we still don't have a firm and fixed agreement," Tauber said.
"We've had handshake deals that under the previous CEO never eventuated before he resigned ... and that hasn't been fulfilled.
"I understand that business is business and the club have still given us what is still a very healthy offer but Benji has made his decision."
The news is a big blow to the Tigers, who are struggling financially and are now resigned to losing one of the most recognisable faces in the game.
Farah said he was be bitterly disappointed to see his long-time teammate leave and his departure would be a huge loss for the NRL.
"No one is bigger than the footy club ... but it's not the best scenario. I always thought Benji would see out his career playing next to me," Farah said.
"We've been through good times together and bad times. But I am shocked, I thought he was going to stay."
"It's a massive loss for the game, you want your best players playing.
"I've played for more than 10 years with the guy and contrary to public belief I am close mates with Benji."