New Zealand
Benji Marshall's attitude continues to impress
ESPN Staff
January 14, 2014
Benji Marshall faced mockery for his weight gain during his last season in league © Getty Images

Benji Marshall has impressed the Blues' coaching staff with his fitness and professionalism during week one of training, only a year after facing mockery for his weight and attitude in rugby league.

A change of scenery both on the field and off seems to have helped refresh Marshall judged on his showing after returning to Blues training. "He's starting to feel comfortable in the group which is good," said New Zealand's Rugby World Cup-winning former All Blacks coach Graham Henry, who is assisting head coach John Kirwan at the Blues.

"It's the first time he's used the ball in rugby [union] since he was a kid so it's going to take him a while to get into the rugby [union] mentality rather than the rugby league mentality. He's a mature guy, he's professional, he's played a lot of football and he's pretty fit. He's starting to get a feel for the game. That's going to take a while and he needs to play some rugby for that to happen but that will happen and I'm encouraged by what I see."

Marshall has been training at both five-eighth and fullback for the Blues.

"I've slotted in at 10, and slotted in at 15 in a few of the structures, and both of them I feel comfortable with," Marshall said. "I don't know everything I probably need to know yet, but I feel comfortable that they suit me probably the best."

Kirwan said he was impressed with Marshall's first week but the transition would take time.

The Blues play their first pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Masterton on February 1, with their first game of the season against the Highlanders on February 22.

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