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SANZAR hail Benji capture - and eye Sonny Bill
Graham Jenkins
August 14, 2013
Wests Tigers' playmaker Benji Marshall in action, Brisbane Broncos v  Wests Tigers, Suncorp Stadium, June 17, 2013
Rugby league star Benji Marshall has put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the Auckland-based Blues © Getty Images
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SANZAR chief Greg Peters has welcomed Benji Marshall's high-profile switch from rugby league to union and hopes Sonny Bill Williams follows his lead.

Marshall ended months of speculation regarding his playing future by putting pen to paper on a two-year deal with the Blues last weekend. The New Zealand rugby league international, a star of the National Rugby League (NRL) competition in Australia for over a decade, immediately set his sights on inspiring success for the Auckland-based franchise and All Blacks honours.

The 28-year-old's bold ambition has been questioned by some but Peters believes he has what it takes to success in union. "It remains to be seen how Benji adapts to the 15-man code, but he's been a great player in rugby league and a fantastic role model," said Peters. "He is approaching it with the right attitude and has every chance of doing very well and no doubt it helps with the profile of rugby union on both sides of the Tasman."

Marshall is the latest in a long line of 'code-hoppers' with the likes of Brad Thorn and Williams among the more recent players to have made the switch and gone on to play for the All Blacks while Wallabies star Israel Folau is another to have made a huge impact since crossing codes this year.

Williams could be the next to commit his future to the game with the New Zealand Rugby Union reportedly closing in on the 28-year-old former All Blacks star. Williams originally quit league for union in 2008 and went on to help propel New Zealand to World Cup glory and the Chiefs to the Super Rugby crown before returning to the NRL earlier this year on a one-year deal.

"Sonny Bill, Israel Folau and Marshall are fantastic players who have a large following in Australia and New Zealand and put a lot of bums on seats," enthused Peters, who insists he is among those eagerly awaiting Williams' decision on where his future lies.

"I haven't heard if he has committed and have only seen what has been said in the media with the Chiefs leaving a spot open for him," said Peters. "We would love to have him back in rugby and back at the Chiefs. He was a wonderful servant and a truly professional athlete and a great player. It would be great to see him back at the Chiefs and back in black."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.
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