New Zealand Rugby
Marshall's move to rugby almost complete
August 3, 2013
Wests Tigers' playmaker Benji Marshall in action, Brisbane Broncos v  Wests Tigers, Suncorp Stadium, June 17, 2013
Benji Marshall may make a decision within "the next few days" © Getty Images

Benji Marshall is edging closer to joining New Zealand Super Rugby franchise the Blues after completing a hit-and-run meeting with their coach Sir John Kirwan in Auckland on Friday.

Marshall and his manager Martin Tauber toured the Blues' facilities and met with club officials for the second time since announcing he was quitting the NRL and Wests Tigers at the end of the year.

The 28-year-old playmaker has also drawn interest from Australian clubs the Waratahs and Rebels but it now appears the Blues will be his destination. He is expected to make a final call on his future early next week.

"It's exciting for him (Marshall)," Tauber told 3news in New Zealand. "He's got a great desire to win and be a part of a winning culture. And having listened to John Kirwan and Andy Dalton ... they've been exceptional. The opportunity (in Auckland excites him). It's also being able to be coached by John Kirwan and of course the possibility he makes the All Blacks."

Asked about the other options on the table for Marshall, Tauber said: "France was an option but he doesn't want to do that until the end of his career. There was the possibility of the two (Australian) franchises but the difficulty with that is they want him to wear the Green and Gold. He will never wear anything other than the Silver Fern."

Kirwan is hopeful the club will secure Marshall's services, believing he will have no problem adapting to rugby and will boost the Blues profile in New Zealand.

"I think there's going to be a lot of people intrigued, and want him to do well," Kirwan told Radio New Zealand. "This is the Blues, this is Auckland, and we're about a little bit of razzle-dazzle as well. If Benji Marshall's coming to town, Aucklanders will turn up."

Marshall flew back into Sydney on Friday night to prepare for the Tigers' away clash Gold Coast Titans on Sunday. The Tigers are down to their last chance if they are to play finals football, needing to win all six of their remaining games to be any hope to sneak into the top eight.

With Marshall and centre Blake Ayshford leaving the club at the end of the campaign, the Tigers are desperate to send them out on the right note.

"They've been here all of their career we don't want to see them go out on a low," centre Chris Lawrence said. "We want to send them out on a high and the only way to do that is win as many games as possible in the back end."

© Sportal

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