Players after quick buck can bid sayonara to Japan: Friend

Former ACT Brumbies coach Andy Friend has warned money-hungry NRL players they could have the door slammed shut on their entry to Japan, claiming the country places a priority on loyalty.

Benji Marshall put the rugby league world in a spin on Thursday with speculation he would seek a release from his Wests Tigers contract to chase a short-term lucrative stint in Japan.

Friend, who coaches Canon Eagles in Japan, admitted Marshall would be a perfect fit for Japanese rugby

But Friend said he would only be interested if Marshall committed to a long-term stint, not a dash for cash.

”We need players who want to make Japan their home, it’s all about loyalty here and giving back to your company and team,” Friend said.

”The Japanese are awake to guys coming here just for cash and then disappearing and we’ll never see them again. I can understand why players want to come here – it appears to be easy money.

”But it’s definitely not easy money and the culture is all about giving back and it doesn’t sit well if you fly in and fly out.

”You can’t have all the money you want … if Benji Marshall decided to leave rugby league, yeah, I’d definitely talk to him because he’s a brilliant footballer.

”In any code he would do well, but I have no interest in a bloke who wants to earn a bit of quick cash.”

Marshall’s bid to play in Japan followed superstar Sonny Bill Williams’s return to rugby league from rugby union.

Before signing with the Sydney Roosters, Williams landed a deal believed to be worth almost $1.16 million to play just a handful of games with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan.

The Tigers moved to douse speculation of Marshall’s desire to play in Japan. Club chief executive Stephen Humphreys insisted the star playmaker, and one of the NRL’s most recognisable and marketable faces, would remain in Australia.

But with Williams joining the Roosters after a stint in Japan, more NRL players could be keen for an off-season code swap to earn the lucrative money available in rugby.

Marshall is contracted with the Tigers until the end of the 2015 season.

Three years ago he tried to link with a Japanese club before signing a new contract, but the then NRL chief executive David Gallop refused to let the deal go ahead.

The Australian cross-code rugby league and rugby union rivalry heated up last week when the Brumbies tried to sign Newcastle Knights player Danny Buderus as a collision coach. But the NRL stepped in and kiboshed the proposed collaboration because Buderus has a year remaining on his playing contract and he would be helping promote a rival code.

Players at the end of their Australian rugby careers often spend time playing in Japan.

Brumbies greats George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and George Smith left Canberra to finish their playing days abroad.

Friend started coaching in Japan this year and is keen to see Australians in the competition.

”Trying to come over and earn as much money as you can and then sneaking off, it has happened, but I can’t see it becoming the norm,” Friend said.

”If companies are going to pay big money, players are going to do it because they want to get the best deals.

”But in my opinion there aren’t many companies which will do that. If people who come here, commit here and buy into the culture, they’ll earn tremendous money and have a great time.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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