Benji Marshall 'not quite ready yet to run a team'
January 30, 2014
Benji Marshall's playmaking responsibilities in rugby league were very different to thatose in rugby © Getty Images
Benji Marshall has not played rugby since he was a 17-year-old schoolboy on the Gold Coast, but Blues coach Sir John Kirwan says his cross-code recruit is under no pressure to perform when he debuts in the Super Rugby pre-season trial against the Hurricanes in Masterton on Saturday.
Marshall accepts he faces a steep learning curve as he adapts to rugby union's positional, defensive and system requirements after joining from National Rugby League side Wests Tigers, saying in a Sunday News interview "the problem was at the start I wanted to know everything straight away ... I've still got long way to go".
Marshall will share the Blues' playmaking duties in Masterton with Baden Kerr, and Kirwan says that he just "needs to get out there and get a feel for it".
"He's been going fantastic, but I just don't want to put too much pressure on him," Kirwan told Fairfax Media of his high-profile recruit. "He's been great in the environment, he's learning a new trade, which is not easy, but he's taking it with great positivity and working really hard."
Kirwan said the media microscope "goes with the territory" for a player of Marshall's profile but the team could limit the pressure.
"As far as we're concerned there's no pressure on him," Kirwan told Fairfax Media in New Zealand. "We just want him to play, to implement the game plans and have an understanding, like everyone else, of what he is doing. As far as judging him on day one, that won't be happening internally. There's no pressure whatsoever. During the week is for practice; Saturday is just play, and then we'll look at it again next week."
Blues scrum-half Piri Weepu, who is mentoring Marshall through his transition, is pleased with his team-mate's progress in training but also countered against the growing expectations by saying "he's not quite ready yet to run a team".
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd