An emotional Benji Marshall says he has no regrets about his decision to leave Wests Tigers at the end of this season, declaring: ''For myself, for my game, for my life, for my happiness, I had to do this. I weighed up a lot of things, I wrote down a lot of stuff, pros and cons, but my decision was about what was best for me, and I thought that I needed a change.''
That change will see Marshall leave the Tigers at the end of this season, assuming club officials allow him a release from the last two years of his contract. Breaking his silence on the shock move, Marshall said he was excited about the prospect of a switch to rugby union while also devastated to be leaving his home for more than a decade.
That said: ''I don't regret my decision at all. Some people aren't going to be happy, but those people aren't living my life. I am.''
Asked why he had made the call to leave the club he helped to a premiership win in 2005, Marshall said: ''It's a combination of a lot of things. A lot of my friends have left, my close friends, over the past couple of years, who were on contract, who were pushed out. People go on about the fact that I had two more years on my contract, and that I'm walking out … some of my teammates who left had agreed to contracts and were pushed out. But that's OK? At the end of the day, the decision had to be made then and there, and I made it.''
The ''handshake agreement'' that he maintains was made - which would have seen him stay with the club until the end of 2017 - was another reason. The five-eighth revealed he had told family, friends and teammates that he would be staying with the club until 2017 after that upgraded and extended deal was, in his eyes, agreed upon.
''I thought I was going to be here until 2017,'' he said. ''I'm celebrating with my mates about it two months ago. And because there was new management, they didn't make that deal, or know anything about that deal, so they couldn't honour that deal. But at the end of the day, I'm a big enough man about it to know that a decision had to be made.
''In the past, I've probably made decisions based upon what I thought what would make everyone else happy. For where I'm at now, and where my life is now, I've made this decision based upon what I thought was the best thing for me and my family. That's the first time that I've ever felt like I've made that decision for me.''
With interest from Super Rugby outfits the Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels and Auckland Blues, Marshall said he had no doubt that he could make the transition to the rival code ''with a lot of hard work, and a lot of attention''.
''I grew up playing it,'' Marshall said. ''I started when I was four. It won't be easy. It will definitely be hard. I watch rugby all the time - it's not like I haven't watched it. But getting out there and remembering positional plays is going to be the first thing.
''I feel like I can still offer a lot to rugby union, on and off the field. For where I'm at in my career, and where I'm at in my life … they reckon a change is as good as a holiday, but it's not going to be much of a holiday, because I'm going to have to work pretty hard.''
Marshall also denied vehemently that he had been motivated by money and greed.
''I made the decision without having a back-up option, or having a deal signed to go to any other club,'' he said. ''Effectively, at the end of this year, I don't have anywhere to go.
''That's the gamble. And that was a hard decision to make. So anyone who tries to say that this decision was about money is full of shit. I'm going to be getting less to play rugby, not more.
''I'm not a money-hungry, disloyal person with no integrity. If anything, I feel I'm the opposite.
''Until you know what sort of person I am, and know the story behind what's gone on, say what you like. But if it was about money, I would have left five years ago to go to Japan, when David Gallop stopped me.
''I wouldn't have taken pay-cuts all those years to help the club be under the cap.
''If it's about money, why would I do all those things? If it's about loyalty, why wouldn't have I have left five years ago, when I had offers from other clubs? Why wouldn't I have done that? Why wouldn't I just go now and play for another NRL club? Why wouldn't I just do that?
''Because that's not me, that's not the sort of person I am. It's more than that. I love the club. Out of respect for the fans of the club, the club, and my teammates, I won't play against them. And that's final. That's it. There's no other [NRL] club I want to play for. At the end of this year, my NRL days are over.''