Benji will soon be sporting a Red V

St George Illawarra officials are confident  a dispute with Wests Tigers over Benji Marshall’s contract will not prevent the former New Zealand skipper from playing next weekend, but he might not make his NRL debut with the club until the round 12 blockbuster against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.

Dragons chief executive Peter Doust is expected to be meet  Tigers counterpart Grant Mayer and NRL officials to discuss a clause in Marshall’s deed of release from his former club last year which states it and St George Illawarra would have to agree on ‘‘commercial terms’’ before he would be allowed to play against them before 2016.

The parties were involved in talks about the issue until 4pm on Friday but the Dragons refused to accede to demands for $175,000 compensation before announcing the signing of Marshall on a 2 year contract.

Mayer refused on Sunday to relax the club’s stance, which was first reported by Fairfax Media on April22, but said the Tigers were prepared to consider a ‘‘combination of cash and contra’’ in a deal similar to the one the Bulldogs made with the Broncos before releasing prop Ben Hannant. In that case, Brisbane members received tickets for matches between the two clubs at Suncorp Stadium.

‘‘It is a matter of compensation but we have said they can do it over three years, it can be part cash and part contra ... we are not being bullish about it, we are not being too onerous, we want to make it sooner rather than later,’’ Mayer said. ‘‘We want to see him back on the field next weekend and we are trying to make it happen for them.’’

Mayer said the NRL had a copy of Marshall’s deed of release and senior officials Jim Doyle and Todd Greenberg knew of the club’s expectations.

Fairfax Media has been told the NRL is unlikely to block Marshall’s registration over the dispute and he  may play next weekend.

‘‘I am pleased to hear that Grant doesn’t want to stand in Benji’s way and I think the NRL want to see Benji play, so we always thought we would sit down and talk our way through it,’’ Doust said.

St George Illawarra had inserted a similar clause in Mark Gasnier’s deed of release.

‘‘How you define an outcome within those contractual terms is pretty vague but we believe everybody’s interests are served by us getting that matter resolved and we don’t see it as a big sticking point, otherwise we wouldn’t have proceeded.

‘‘There are various ways of looking at it. I think it is fair to say that there is a term there that says the contract has to be registered; it doesn’t mean the NRL won’t deem it to be registered if they feel what we have done is reasonable.’’

Dragons coach Steve Price would not be drawn on his immediate plans for Marshall but there is a chance he will play for Illawarra Cutters next weekend.

The story Benji will soon be sporting a Red V first appeared on Brisbane Times.

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