Benji Marshall last night requested a release from the remaining two years of his Wests Tigers contract.
We are surprised and disappointed that Benji has made this decision, but we accept and respect the decision that he has made.
We believe as a Club we made a fair and reasonable offer to upgrade Benji's contract, an offer which was not insignificant and one which we believed he would accept.
Wests Tigers and the NRL have worked over time to ensure Benji remained with the Club and in the game of Rugby League.
Benji and his manager have today stated that this decision is not about money.
Benji has given over a decade of loyal service to the Club and was instrumental in building the Wests Tigers and delivering our maiden premiership.
We must now respect his decision to move on with his career and do what he feels is best for himself and for his family.
As a Club, we now have the opportunity to re-sign and build our future around a genuinely exciting core of talented young players.
The likes of Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses, Marika Koroibete, David Nofoaluma, Tim Simona and Kyle Lovett, amongst a host of other highly skilled youngsters are the future of this Club.
This Club has the potential to be a top four side year-in, year-out. We are putting in place the systems necessary to ensure this happens.
While we would have loved Benji Marshall to be a part of that process, it now appears this will not be the case and we need to move forward together, as a Club.
Although many of you are disappointed today, I encourage you to remain positive and put your faith in this Club that we love.
We need our Members to remain committed and loyal as we work to ensure we build the successful Club you deserve.
There are bright days ahead for the Wests Tigers and we are working not only to ensure we claim our second Premiership but also that we lay the foundations for a consistently successful Club.
We hope you will join us in celebrating Benji Marshall's 200th match for the Club when we take on South Sydney at Allianz Stadium in Round 25.
This will be a chance to acknowledge the wonderful legacy Benji leaves this Club with and a chance to remember the special moments he provided.
I thank you for your continued support. Membership is now the lifeblood of NRL clubs and without you, we cannot become the Club we want to become.
We hope to see you at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night as we look to continue our unbeaten record at the ground in 2013 when we take on the Warriors.