The chase is on: The Dragons would love to have Benji Marshall in the red and white. Photo: Brendan Esposito
St George Illawarra players have backed Benji Marshall to thrive at the club as the Dragons prepare to finalise a formal offer for the former Wests Tigers star.
Dragons coach Steve Price, who met with Marshall last week, is understood to have asked his senior players whether he should pursue the Kiwis international, and they endorsed the move.
However, St George Illawarra officials are still manoeuvring to accommodate him under the salary cap before they can table the two-and-a-half year deal in writing. Even if he agreed immediately, it is unlikely Marshall would play this weekend.
Marshall is considering a similar offer from Cronulla but the Dragons are confident of signing him. Back-rower Bronson Harrison believes his former housemate and teammate with Wests Tigers and New Zealand would have a huge impact on the club's premiership aspirations.
"I would love to see him here, it is not too often you get to play with someone of his calibre so it would be good for the club," Harrison said.
"If he did come here, he would have to adapt to our style and put his flavour on it but, if he did that, I think we would be a very strong force. I think he would add to the side and would become more of a threat."
Harrison played alongside Marshall in the Tigers' 2005 premiership-winning team and still speaks to him regularly.
After the disappointment of the way Marshall's 12-season stint with the Tigers ended last year, he said the 29-year-old was determined to make a successful return and money would not be the deciding factor in where he played.
"After speaking to him I know how hungry he is," Harrison said. "I used to live with him so I know how much of a competitor he is and I know how intelligent he is, so I know that if he comes here there is a good opportunity for him to shine.
"We have got great medical staff, we have got a great back line and a strong, solid pack so I think that is a good environment for him to flourish.
"But, like I said, he is a smart man and when it comes to weighing up his decision he will look at all of his options. He will look at the bigger picture, it won't just be short term or a money thing."
Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop also welcomed the prospect of Marshall joining the club and said the pair would have no problems playing together in the halves.
‘‘As a young fellow, I played with some great players down at Melbourne so, to play with Benji – another great player – would be great too,’’ Widdop said.
"Everyone knows what he has done for rugby league. He was a great player before he left for rugby union. Everyone watches footy to watch people like Benji and, to have him back, I’m sure it is going to attract a lot more attention, which is great for rugby league."
Meanwhile, the Dragons are still in contention to sign Storm and Kiwis second-rower Kevin Proctor, who is off contract at the end of the season.
"I've told the other clubs they're still in the running," Proctor's manager Chris Orr said. "We're just waiting to hear back from Melbourne on their final position."
Orr said a final decision on where Proctor plays next year was likely to be made next Wednesday.