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Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran.

Rival coaches Michael Maguire and Des Hasler are standing firm on the challenges they face regarding two of the game's aging stars ahead of their clash on Saturday night.

On the same day Hasler hosed down talk Bulldogs playmaker Kieran Foran was returning to the northern beaches, Maguire labelled his decision to allow Benji Marshall to leave as one of the most difficult of his career.

The veteran playmakers are free agents regarding next season with Marshall's exit from the Wests Tigers confirmed earlier in the week. 

The Kiwi's great will be farewelled by the Wests Tigers at the club's final home game on September 26 and while Maguire said the decision was difficult on Friday, he stood firm.

"Yeah, definitely, it is [one of the hardest decisions]," Maguire said.

Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers - Round 17

"You get a relationship with the players but you're also faced with what has to be talked about moving forward.

"We understand where the organisation is at, it's missed out on the finals and I've been here two years now and effective change needs to be made.

"We can't keep doing the same. They're tough conversations. As a leader and we've been through a lot together whether it be here or at the Kiwis."

Hasler ruled out a possible reunion with Foran at the club in 2021 amid speculation he could be part of a swap-deal with Dylan Walker.

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Hasler offered a stern "no" when asked if Foran, the 31-year-old premiership-winner, was a genuine chance of re-joining the club next year.

Foran is unlikely to remain at Canterbury after the Belmore outfit signed injured Newcastle playmaker Blake Green on a one-year deal.

The luckless playmaker was linked to a swap with Walker earlier in the week, sparking suggestions he could reunite with Hasler.

However, the Sea Eagles coach poured cold water on the situation on Friday when asked to explain the reason behind knocking back a Foran return.

"The roster getting smaller, if it does, and salary cap space," Hasler quipped.

Hasler has lured Bulldogs centre Morgan Harper for next season but has otherwise been quiet in the player market.

The club has six players off-contract for next season including Danny Levi, Brendan Elliot, Albert Hopoate and Corey Waddell.

Veteran back-rower Joel Thompson played his final game with the club last weekend due to an ankle injury.

Manly hooker hoping to stay on in 2021

He'll link with St Helens in the English Super League next season.

"The Joel Thompson story is a great one in the fact of the transformation," Hasler said.

"I've gotten to know Joel over the last two years and he's had a significant career in rugby league.

"I think it's really important that we acknowledge what sport, and in particular rugby league, has given to Joel. It is quite significant.

"You look over Joel's past and growing up, sitting down and chatting with him and it hasn't been easy for him.

"He's had to persevere. To see him grow and develop a foundation, to see the work he does with his Indigenous background and the work he does with his people is just astonishing."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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