St George Illawarra are headed for a major rebuild of their spine after coach Paul McGregor confirmed Benji Marshall and Mitch Rein won’t be at the club next NRL season.
While Marshall has long been resigned to not being offered a new contract by the Dragons, revelations Rein is on the lookout for a new club comes as a surprise.
Rein’s management were believed to be at loggerheads for most of the season over the money tabled to remain in Wollongong – speculation McGregor dismissed on Friday.
However, he revealed the club had opted to find a new hooker for 2017, leaving the club without a recognised halfback and rake going into the off-season.
“It’s unfair and incorrect some of the money that’s been talked about that Mitch wanted, over the 600k mark, and that’s certainly not the circumstance,” McGregor told Fairfax Media.
“It’s a decision by the club that we’re moving in another direction and a change for coach and player is what’s needed in that position.
“Mitch has been a very good player for a very long time and I wish him all the very best.”
McGregor also confirmed he has promised Marshall a farewell game in the club’s final regular season game next week after axing the former international in favour of promising talent Drew Hutchison.
With interest in the 31-year-old scarce, the Dragons’ round 26 fixture against Newcastle looms as his last appearance in the NRL.
A recurring hamstring injury has limited him to just 15 games this season, although he leads the team in try assists (12) and line break assists (11).
“It’s always difficult when you talk to players about their future,” McGregor said.
“Last year he was second in the Dally M and things went great. Unfortunately he’s had a history with injury this year and hasn’t been able to play to his full potential because of that.
“It comes to the stage where the club makes a decision and as head coach you stand by that and Benji won’t be here next year.”