Speculation: Benji Marshall. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Canberra are not in the market for Benji Marshall, but they are hoping to have better luck convincing major sponsor Huawei to stick around.
The Raiders hosed down speculation on Monday that they were the latest NRL club prepared to throw former Wests Tigers star Marshall a lifeline after his ill-fated stint in rugby union.
Of more immediate concern is talks with Huawei as the Chinese telecommunications company decides whether to extend its three-year association with the Raiders.
Huawei has until the end of May to take up an option before the Raiders start the search for a new sponsor for next season.
The Raiders will host officials from Huawei during their next home game against Penrith at Canberra Stadium on May 18.
After recently extending the contract of key sponsor Defence Housing Australia, Raiders chief executive Don Furner was optimistic an agreement would also be reached with Huawei.
"We want to keep our major sponsor on board,'' Furner said.
"We will sit down this month and have some meetings with them because, at the end of May, they have a clause to extend.
"We're hopeful the answer is yes and we'll work through that with them. That's a high priority for us.''
The Raiders announced a two-year partnership with Huawei in April 2012, subsequently agreeing to extend the deal until the end of this year.
It was the first major sponsorship of a professional sporting team for Huawei, which was keen to use the exposure to break into the Australian market.
Huawei is also a major sponsor of A-League team the Wellington Phoenix.
On the field, the priority for the Raiders is retaining their young talent before exploring their options on the open market.
The exception is Melbourne back-rower Kevin Proctor, Furner confirming the Raiders were one of several clubs who had spoken to the manager of the New Zealand international who is expected to command upwards of $500,000 per season.
The Raiders were also linked to Marshall, who is yet to sign with an NRL club after parting ways with Super Rugby team the Auckland Blues in April.
St George Illawarra are the favourites to secure Marshall's signature, while Cronulla, the Storm and New Zealand have also been mooted as possible destinations.
"Absolutely not, [Marshall] hasn't even been discussed,'' Furner said.
"His name has never come up and, as far as I know, no one has had a meeting with him or about him.''
The Raiders have been proactive in re-signing several players, including Shaun Fensom, Joel Edwards, Shannon Boyd, Jack Wighton and Dane Tilse.
Their next target is Country utility Josh McCrone, while they are also keen on extending the contracts of centre Matt Allwood and prop Paul Vaughan, who is signed until the end of next year.
"The focus for us at the moment is retention, which it is always is,'' Furner said.
"I've got to sit down with [coach] Ricky [Stuart] in the next couple weeks and go over the list.''
Veteran front-rower Brett White will decide on his playing future by the end of May, while Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Reece Robinson are among the other players off-contract at the end of the season.