New Zealand Rugby
Benji Marshall 'hard ask' for Blues
July 12, 2013
Wests Tigers' playmaker Benji Marshall in action, Brisbane Broncos v  Wests Tigers, Suncorp Stadium, June 17, 2013
Sir John Kirwan believes Benji Marshall will be a sensation in rugby union © Getty Images

Benji Marshall remains in the Blues' sights, but coach Sir John Kirwan accepts he has only a slim chance of convincing the West Tigers NRL star to join the Super Rugby franchise.

Marshall, who made his debut with the Tigers 10 years ago, is considering his future at the NRL club, and Kirwan has been in contact with the player's manager, Martin Tauber. Kirwan, however, describes the task of luring Marshall to Auckland as "a hard ask" because the New Zealand rugby league five-eighth must take a drop in pay to join the Blues. "It's going to be a big sacrifice for him financially," Kirwan said. "I don't think we can compete on that side of things, but we have to go through that process."

Kirwan is also interested in signing Hurricanes and All Blacks first five-eighth Beauden Barrett, who is off contract at the end of the year. And he wouldn't be against All Blacks midfielder Ma'a Nonu returning to the Blues. Kirwan didn't hide his disappointment when Nonu confirmed last October that he was leaving the Blues for the Highlanders, but he said on Thursday that "we said our piece at the time and we've caught up since".

"I don't think he would probably look at here, but I wouldn't close the door on anyone," Kirwan said of Nonu. "For me, it's really important to put the franchise first."

Matt Dunning and Duncan McRae preview Super Rugby round 20
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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