Blues set to play Benji Marshall at fly-half
January 23, 2014
Benji NMarshall now seems likely to reprise his NRL playmaking role in Super Rugby © Getty Images
Sir John Kirwan says he is now thinking of Benji Marshall primarily as a playmaker, and the National Rugby League recruit seems set to play as a fly-half despite his lack of experience in rugby union.
Kirwan has spoken openly of his belief that the former Wests Tigers playmaker could develop into a world-class No.10 in the 15-man game, but he said previously that he would play the high-profile recruit at fullback to give him time to adapt to the new code.
Kirwan, meanwhile, paid tribute to the role of Piri Weepu in Marshall's rugby education, the Blues coach saying his scrum-half is "really helping Benji".
"They know and understand each other," Kirwan said of his prospective halves pairing. "That peer coaching is probably stronger than what we [coaches] can do."
Weepu is still in rehabilitation after minor knee surgery to correct the injury he sustained while on tour to Canada and the United States with the All Blacks Maori, but the 71-Test half-back has been passing on invaluable knowledge of the Blues structures and style.
"His mentality in terms of attack is totally different to how we like to attack," Weepu told APNZ. "We like to be more square instead of running across the field ; I think he's still trying to get used to that. As long as he's doing everything he can to learn his trade at 10 or fullback, I'm sure he'll go really well. We all hope he does. He's pretty exciting to watch, some of the stuff he does at training, some of the boys look at him and go 'oh, did he just do that?'.
"We've got to do everything possible to help him out, we can't just let him do it all. I know the likes of Francis [Saili], who has been involved with the ABs, and Ma'a [Nonu], who has been there, are able to help him out if he plays at 10. We've got guys like Charles [Piutau] who can help him position-wise if he plays at fullback."
The Blues play their first Super Rugby trial against the Hurricanes in Masterton before travelling to Sydney to play New South Wales Waratahs and then to Rotorua for a February 14 fixture against the Chiefs, a match in which the majority of Kirwan's All Blacks are likely to make their first appearance of the season.
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