By James MacSmith
St George Illawarra coach Steve Price says Benji Marshall is physically and mentally ready for a return to the NRL.
But the Dragons mentor says he will delay a decision on whether to play the former Wests Tigers superstar in his side for Saturday's Round 10 match with Parramatta until later this week.
Price said he was impressed with Marshall, who signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Dragons after severing ties with Super Rugby's Auckland Blues on Easter Monday, as he breezed through his first training session with his new side at Wollongong on Tuesday.
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"Going by today's session he is in reasonable shape," Price said.
"In pre-season with the Blues he has done a hell of a lot of volume running and he looks good.
"He got through it all, it wasn't a taxing session by any means but he got through it all and he did a bit extra at the end.
"As you can see he is in a good head space ... and it is important that he has to earn the respect of his teammates, I'm sure he will.
"I don't think it would be too much of an expectation (for him to play the Eels). It wasn't that long ago he was out of the game.
"It is all about understanding our structures and our systems and I will make a call as we go in the coming days.
"Benji is a winner, he has shown that over the years, as he said on Friday he is disappointed how he finished.
"He is a proud man, a very humble man, hopefully we see the best of Benji in the Red V sometime this year."
Marshall briefly addressed his new teammates on Tuesday and Price said if he was selected to play the Eels it would be alongside Gareth Widdop in the halves.
The Tigers, who released Marshall at the end of 2013, are reportedly demanding $150,000 in compensation before he will be allowed play for the Dragons.
Price said he was confident the issue wouldn't stand in the way of Marshall making his Dragons debut this weekend if selected.
"I'm sure that will get fixed up," Price said.
"That is a decision between the NRL and (Dragons chief executive) Peter (Doust).
"It is not an issue at all."