The future of St George Illawarra playmaker Benji Marshall has come under a cloud, with the halfback again ruled out because of a niggling hamstring complaint.
The off-contract 31-year-old has been restricted to just three appearances for the besieged Dragons this year and will again miss Saturday’s crunch round-seven clash with Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium.
Marshall is fighting for his future and his latest setback raises questions about his body’s ability to stand up to the scrutiny of the NRL beyond this year.
He has been tabled a $300,000 contract by the Dragons but has knocked back that initial offer because it is well below the worth of his current deal.
Coach Paul McGregor on Friday gave no guarantees Marshall would be back for the side’s big Anzac Day clash with the Sydney Roosters.
He said they were wary of not rushing back their star half too early for fear of a recurrence of the injury which had plagued him since round one.
“He’s frustrated, as we all are,” McGregor said.
“And that’s Benji’s biggest challenge at the moment, not trying to push it too quick because hamstrings can be a real danger. If you come back too early, you can really extend the length of time on the sidelines.”
Josh McCrone will fill in at halfback however the loss of the former New Zealand Test representative is a massive blow for the under-pressure Dragons.
They have failed to score a point over the previous fortnight against North Queensland and Brisbane. If they do not get on the scoreboard against the Titans, they will tie Cronulla’s 2014 unwanted record for going the most games without scoring a point.