Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has swatted away suggestions Benji Marshall may make an emotional return to the club as he digs in to retain NRL young guns Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.
With Marshall’s negotiations with St George Illawarra at a standstill, it’s been speculated the Tigers’ 2005 grand final hero could finish his career at the joint venture after an acrimonious departure in 2013.
“It’s fairly unlikely that one,” Taylor said on Friday ahead of Brooks’ return from suspension for the Tigers’ showdown on Monday night with Manly at Leichhardt Oval.
Taylor is more intent on keeping exciting halves Moses and Brooks at the Tigers than trying to entice prodigal son Marshall back.
Moses and Brooks, both 21, are two of the hottest talents off contract at season’s end, but the Tiger cubs and long-time friends and teammates accept salary-cap constraints may make it difficult extending their partnership in 2017.
Taylor insists any contract negotiations won’t be a distraction for the Tigers, who made a flying start to the season with a big win over the more-fancied Warriors in round one last weekend.
“It’s just part of the game these days. We aren’t the only club that’s got key players who are off contract,” the coach said.
“It’s just a matter of managing it. The players are positive. They’re enjoying what they’re doing and everything that’s happening around here is positive so that can only help the guys want to stay and that’s what we’re working towards.
“Both of those guys we would love to stay and that’s a genuine possibility so we’ll see where we get to down the track.
“We’ll work hard to put a good team around them and we’ve talked to them about the future here and what we’re building towards.
“I think they can see it. It’s really clear to all of us that the club’s heading in a great direction.
“I’m sure they’ll want to be part of that and there’s no reason why they won’t be.”