By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
St George Illawarra halfback Benji Marshall knows the club's salary cap could be the impetus behind his Dragons exit, but is ready to let his football do the talking in 2016.
With his future at the club in doubt beyond this season, as young gun Drew Hutchison continues to push for a first grade spot, Marshall is looking towards achieving "big things" with the Red V in the season ahead.
Speaking at the Charity Shield launch on Wednesday, Marshall also said when the time comes for his immediate future to be decided he knows Dragons coach Paul McGregor will be upfront and honest.
"I'm not really trying to think about it to be honest. From my point of view I'd love to stay at the Dragons after this year but I know there's a realistic chance I won't be able to due to salary cap reasons – I'm keeping an open mind," Marshall said.
"As far as I'm concerned I'm committed to the team this year and won't be going anywhere else until otherwise. I want to do big things with our club and our team and I feel we have set a good platform from our pre-season.
"I just want to get playing: I'm sick of turning up at 7am every morning to training and having to face the coaches."
In what has been a big few weeks for the club, Marshall said he has already noticed a change in the demeanour of halves partner and the Dragons' new team skipper Gareth Widdop.
"If anything it's enhanced his hunger and his desire at training and he's definitely taken on more a 'leading by example' role," he said.
"Gaz doesn't talk a lot naturally but I've seen him try and build on that on and off the field. It's a great addition, he's a natural born leader and someone the boys love to follow and we're looking forward to playing under him."
Also speaking at the Charity Shield launch on Wednesday was Dragons assistant coach and club legend Dean Young.
Having been beside McGregor during his entire tenure as head coach at the club so far, Young said St George Illawarra are looking to build upon their 2015 successes – a season which saw the Red V play finals footy for the first time since 2011.
"It was a huge year for the club last year. Three years without making the finals before that wasn't good enough for the Dragons and what the fans expect," Young said.
"It's been a work in progress, the boys started the year off really well last year but we fell away mid-year due to a few injuries and lack of confidence. The boys did all the fans very proud to make the finals though in very tough conditions.
"It was a good stepping stone, but now we're expecting a lot better this year after spending 12 months under Mary."