Anderson beats Benji to Japanese rugby - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Anderson beats Benji to Japanese rugby

By Steve Jancetic 24/02/2009 08:40:34 PM Comments (0)

Fraser Anderson has beaten Benji Marshall to the Japanese rugby union punch with the Cronulla utility gaining an immediate release from his NRL contract to switch codes on Tuesday.

While all eyes were on Marshall and his possible off-season move to Japan, Anderson snuck under everybody's guard to secure a lucrative two-year deal in Japan, believed to be worth three times his current Sharks contract.

Anderson's manager Lance Thompson had been in negotiations with Cronulla about a two-year extension to his existing deal, which had been due to expire at the end of this season.

"There was no way we could match the money being offered to Fraser and while disappointed to be losing a player of his ability, we have decided to allow him to accept this opportunity," Sharks chief executive Tony Zappia said.

With the start of the Japanese pre-season still some months away, Anderson asked the Sharks if he could stay on at the club until his departure.

It was an offer Zappia said the club could not accommodate, both for the effect on team harmony and a desire to back the NRL's hardline stance against players interchanging between the two codes.

"In discussing the situation with (coach) Ricky Stuart and the coaching staff, to allow something like this to occur mid-season would have been a major disruption to our fans and the playing group," Zappia said.

"We are also supporting the NRL in regards to their stance against players agreeing to contracts with rivals codes yet attempting to remain in the NRL."

Anderson's utility value had been a major asset to Stuart after he joined the club in 2007 following one season with Brisbane.

The rangy 24-year-old was used predominantly as a backrower last season, a factor which may have aided his chances of gaining a release given the Sharks' recruitment of Reni Maitua and the return of Reece Williams, who missed most of the 2008 season with injury.

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