Marshall signs with Blues
Rugby league star Benji Marshall has signed a two-year deal to play for the Blues in the Super Rugby competition, the Auckland club have announced.
After spending more than a decade with Sydney-based NRL side the Wests Tigers, Marshall recently announced his desire to pursue a career in rugby union, and is now relishing the prospect of playing under Sir John Kirwan and his coaching team.
"Based on what JK [Kirwan] has told me about the winning culture the Blues are working to create and where he sees my part in that, I'm really looking forward to this next stage of my sporting career," he said.
Kirwan is delighted to have Marshall on board.
"It has been a bit of a process because it's obviously a big decision for Benji but he's really excited about the challenge and we're thrilled to have someone with his professionalism and ability in the organisation," Kirwan said. "I think it's going to be a great journey for all of us.
"Benji has the ability to break open a game; he's one of those players that does the right thing at the right time. He has great footwork and a good passing game so we can see those attributed being really beneficial to the Blues and to rugby union."
The Blues' interest in Marshall had been no secret since he made clear his future plans, and a recent visit to Auckland by the player and his wife Zoe helped shape his final choice.
The Whakatane-born 28-year-old moved to Australia aged 15 in order to take up a league scholarship at Keebra Park State High School on the Gold Coast.
He first played for the Tigers in 2003 and has since reached 196 games for the club while also featuring in 27 Tests for the Kiwis and captaining them from 2009 to 2012.
Marshall was a New Zealand Under-16 schoolboy player and is looking forward to the code change and the new challenge it involves.
"It was important for us to see for ourselves the area, the facilities and what was in store should we move to Auckland. As a New Zealander, it's pretty special to be able to live back here with my wife," Marshall said.
No decision has been made on what position Marshall will play in the Blues side.
Kirwan said: "I've always said I'm not going to put any pressure on that. Obviously he's a talented player so perhaps 15 (full-back), 12 (inside centre) or 10 (fly-half) but we don't really know yet.
"We're leaning towards 15, but we'll just have to wait until he joins the team for pre-season training and see how it goes."