Michael Maguire insists Benji Marshall is still very much a part of his plans for this season, and the player himself has confirmed he remains committed to helping Wests Tigers make the finals for the first time in almost a decade.
Marshall has been linked with Parramatta after the injury to star halfback Mitchell Moses last weekend while - according to a Sydney Morning Herald report - other clubs have had discussions about his services following Maguire's axing of the Tigers skipper three weeks ago.
The Tigers have since won two of their three matches and Sunday night's 34-6 defeat of Canterbury was hailed as the 80-minute performance Maguire has been seeking at a club that last qualified for the finals in 2011.
However, Marshall still has a vital role to play at the Tigers as he awaits a recall to the line-up and Maguire said the veteran playmaker had given no indication he wanted to leave.
"None whatsoever," Maguire said on Monday.
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
"We talk a lot about where the club is going and he is very much a part of that. He is a leader and an experienced player who can have a massive influence on or off the field."
Marshall echoed his coach's words, appearing on Fox League on Tuesday night.
"Not once have I said I wanted to leave, or I wasn't happy," Marshall told NRL360.
"It is what it is, I can't control what happens at the time and what happens with the halves at our team.
"What I am going to do is control what I can control. I can still have an impact on the team's performance without playing, based on what I do at training."
Marshall conceded the decision by Maguire to drop him was based on his defence in the early part of the season.
"Yeah absolutely. At the start I thought it might have more to do with game management but the coach pointed out a few things I can do better defensively, missing a few tackles.
"It's a game of two halves, my attack's been awesome but my defence has to be better.
"For the last three weeks I've been warming up as 18th man on standby for in case someone else gets injured.
"I love our club, and I'll be back there playing."
Marshall said he wasn't looking to leave the Tigers despite interest from other clubs.
"There was other interest towards my manager. My instructions were just to leave that," he said.
"My goal at the moment is just to fight hard and get back into the side.
"Let me just reassure all our fans and supporters that I'm dedicated to the Tigers, I'm committed."
Marshall denied it was hard watching the team succeed in his absence.
"We need to make the semis and if I get my chance in the semis I'll be more happy with that than if we don't play finals football."
While Josh Reynolds and Luke Brooks have been the first-choice halves against Canberra, North Queensland and Canterbury, injuries to Moses and Manly pair Dylan Walker and Tom Trbojevic have highlighted the need for clubs to have depth.
If the Tigers suffer an injury or one of the playmakers loses form, Marshall is almost certain to be recalled.
Get Caught Up: Round 7
"Every club will go through that at some stage, we are just fortunate at this present moment," Maguire said.
"I have picked on performance - that is purely what we are doing - and to have depth is what's required to be able to get from the start to the finish.
"Benji is very much part of our plans. To have the quality of what we have ready to go when the time is right is what you are trying to build all the time."
Maguire made five changes, including dropping Marshall for Reynolds after the Tigers lost 28-23 to Gold Coast in round four, and club stalwart Chris Lawrence was dumped a week later following the 14-6 defeat by Canberra.
The 2014 premiership-winning coach insists Marshall and Lawrence have key roles to play in the revival of the Tigers, whose only title success was beating North Queensland in the 2005 grand final.
Maguire has been used to success after playing at Canberra in the 1990s and doing his coaching apprenticeship at Melbourne under Craig Bellamy before taking Wigan to premiership and Challenge Cup glory in England.
In his third season at South Sydney, he steered them to a 21st premiership win that had eluded the club for 43 years and is determined to deliver similar success to Wests Tigers.
"Benji has been a big part of the change to this point in my time here," Maguire said.
Every try from round 7
"Since I have been here, he has always had this mentality of wanting this club to be - where we all want it - at the top of the table.
"That is also a big part of what Chris Lawrence is about. Their presence in and around the team is so valuable to us because we have got a young group that is growing very quickly and that's what we all want.
"People like Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall want this club up where all the supporters, all the ex-players and everyone else want it to be because it has been a long time between drinks."