New Zealand
Benji Marshall talks of need for patience
ESPN Staff
January 27, 2014
Benji Marshall is the headline player of the New Zealand pre-season to date © Getty Images

Benji Marshall has spoken of his need for patience as he bids to establish himself as a star with the Blues, and hopefully the New Zealand All Blacks, having moved to rugby union from the National Rugby League competition in Australia.

Marshall enjoyed a stellar career in the 13-man code with Wests Tigers and the Kiwis, winning the 2005 NRL premiership, 2008 Rugby League World Cup , 2010 Four Nations tournament and the 2010 Golden Boot Award as the best player in the world, but he accepts that he has had to "step back" having last previously played union as a 17-year-old schoolboy on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

"The problem was at the start I wanted to know everything straight away," Marshall told New Zealand's Sunday News. "I'm one of those people if I'm not good at something I'll go hard until I get good at it. But I had to break it down and take a step back. That was pretty hard for me. But I feel like how far I've come in just a couple of weeks is good. I've still got long way to go, man. We haven't even touched on rucks yet. I'm just learning the attack structures. Now we're looking at the defensive side of things."

Marshall says the chief difference he has learned between the codes is the need to be an all-round player with 360-degree awareness in union as league players were either left- or right-sided. He says his instinct in league was to step inside to find space, but that only sees him run into opponents in union. "The first week I was so frustrated, because I was shit at it and I wanted to be good at it," Marshall told Sunday News.

Marshall may feel he's simply learning the Blues' attacking structures, but he has impressed the franchise's coaches enough for Sir John Kirwan already to have suggested he will be the team's starting fly-half. Kirwan had suggested previously that Marshall would be play fullback as he learned the game, but "he's blended in fine, has been playing a lot at 10, hasn't done much at 15, and so far, so good"

"He's doing everything he can ... and we just need to get him out there to have a bit of a crack at it," Kirwan told Sunday News with one caveat: "What we don't need to do is put pressure on Benji to be a great rugby player in week one. I think he will be a great rugby player, but it will take him a little while to get used to the finer parts of our game. This is a long-term project, and we think he's going be a good 10, so we'll just go with that."

Marshall is unabashed in saying the "long-term project" includes Test ambitions with the All Blacks and Rugby World Cup 2015.

"Long term the ultimate goal is to make the All Blacks," Marshall told Sunday News. "To do that you have to be the best. I'm still a long way off that. I'll be happy to just cement a spot somewhere in the team for the season. I want to be there for round one but if I'm not ready, I'm not ready, and I'm sure with the honesty in the club they'll tell me if I'm not ready."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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