July 16, 2023

‘Not only wrong, but defamatory’: Tigers in turmoil as Fulton-Marshall rift widens

By Michael Chammas
July 16, 2023 — 2.45pm
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The Wests Tigers are on the brink of civil war after Benji Marshall’s manager was forced to deny a suggestion that his client owned a share in the management company trying to lure Aidan Sezer to the club next year.

The allegation was made on radio on Sunday morning by Peter Peters, the godfather of new Tigers recruitment manager Scott Fulton, who has been at loggerheads with assistant coach Marshall since his controversial appointment two months ago.

The latest point of conflict revolves around Marshall’s desire to pursue Sezer, which is at odds with Fulton’s intention to sign Penrith back-up playmaker Jack Cogger.

Marshall’s manager, Matt Desira, of ARIA Management, has been in dialogue with the Tigers for weeks about bringing Sezer back to the NRL next year. The former Raiders half is currently playing for Leeds in the Super League.

While Desira manages out-of-favour fullback Daine Laurie, his only connection to head office at the club is Marshall, who was one of the company’s first clients when the agency started in 2019.

Desira denied he had business connections with any other Tigers official. He vehemently denied what he interpreted were allegations made against him and Marshall by Peters on Sky Sports Radio.

Wests Tigers’ coach-in-waiting Benji Marshall.Credit: Getty Images

“Benji Marshall doesn’t and never has had a stake in ARIA management group,” Desira told this masthead. “Any suggestion that is the case is not only wrong, but defamatory. I have spoken to Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe and chairman Lee Hagipantelis and have assured them that Benji doesn’t have a stake in the business.”

Desira was responding to comments made by Peters, claiming that he had been told that a Tigers official had a 15 per cent share in the management company trying to sign Sezer at the club.


“Before I go any further I want to declare that Scott Fulton is my godson before people jump on that bandwagon and say I’m just supporting him. I’m not, I’m telling it as I see it,” Peters said.


“Aidan Sezer has been a client of the long-time highly respected manager Sam Ayoub for a long, long time. Currently, the deal with the Tigers, if it goes through, is being organised by another agency [ARIA management]. I’ve been told today – it’s a bit of a bombshell – that a current high-profile Tigers official is alleged to have 15 per cent share in the company trying to lure Sezer unbeknown to Sam Ayoub, who still thinks he is managing him.

“Now, Sam Ayoub has a lot of clout in a lot of clubs and also at the Tigers. Young [Jahream] Bula, the star fullback at the moment, is a Sam Ayoub client. I wouldn’t be getting him offside if I was Wests Tigers.”

This masthead approached Peters for clarification. “I never stated who the official was,” Peters said. “It’s up to the NRL to investigate it.”

This masthead has spoken to a senior Wests Tigers officials, who confirmed that Desira had been in contact with the club on Sunday morning.

The comments made by Peters haven’t gone down well with the Marshall camp, who already have concerns about his working relationship with Fulton.

Desira held a meeting with the club a few weeks ago to raise concerns about Fulton, who was appointed without consultation with either head coach Tim Sheens or assistant Marshall, who is scheduled to take over the head coaching role in 2024.

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Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning HeraldConnect via Twitter or email.


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