Wests Tigers National Rugby League star Benji Marshall has signed with the Auckland based Blues to play Super Rugby in 2014. Do you think this is a good move? Which position will he play in rugby union?
I think it is a great move and he will draw large crowds even if he is initially a bit quiet. Blues coach John Kirwan will need enough depth in his squad to carry Benji Marshall through the early stages of his switch. Remember, Sonny Bill Williams took a while to find his feet in rugby union and Benji Marshall has played rugby league longer and is older.
Marshall has had a shocking NRL season this year and without a contract for next season, his best option is to switch to rugby union if he is going to attempt to do what Sonny Bill Williams did and become and make the All Blacks.
Benji Marshall would probably be best suited to either second five eighth or fullback when he comes to rugby because both halfback and first five eighth are very important positions which he may not be ready for giving his limited knowledge of the game. You really need people who know what they are doing in certain positions.
New Zealand has plenty of good halfbacks, first five eighths and fullbacks. I think he would love the space at fullback, so that would be his best place to start. Another option is second five eighth where New Zealand has less depth, but he would be in the defensive line and so would have to make his tackles. His kicking game would be useful there.
If he wants to make the New Zealand Sevens team for a shot at the Olympic Games then I think he would be a great sevens player, but he must get that confidence back which has been lacking this season in the NRL. Marshall was amazing in his younger days, with a huge step and brilliant passing game, but he seems to have been quiet this year. He will get plenty of competition with NZ Warriors player Shaun Johnson also set to switch in order to play in the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
Sonny Bill Williams may also join Benji Marshall in Super Rugby 2014, meaning two NRL players from 2013 will be playing Super Rugby next season. It is funny seeing the reversal of fortunes for the two codes, but I believe having Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games is a massive coup for the sport.
It will be interesting to see if Benji Marshall is still available for the Kiwis rugby league team to play in the Rugby League World Cup later this year or if he has to play in the ITM Cup to become eligible for the Blues in next season’s Super Rugby competition.
Are you pleased Benji Marshall is switching to rugby? Which position should he play?