SJK retains faith in Benji as a five-eighth
March 14, 2014
Benji Marshall retains the potential to be the Blues' main playmaker, but Sir John Kirwan says "we just need to be a little more patient with him".
Marshall will run out in the No.15 jersey when the Blues tackle the Lions in Johannesburg, having started as five-eighth during the pre-season. But he has played in the competition proper only as replacement fullback in the first-round defeat to the Highlanders.
"He certainly learns very quickly and I think he will have more possibilities to play 10, but we just need to be a little more patient with him," Kirwan said. "Being out there and playing the game, and seeing what the team is doing and how to run it will be a much quicker way to learn."
Marshall was an unused substitute in the week-two win over the Crusaders, and he was left out of the match-day squad that lost to the Bulls last weekend. Kirwan said it had been a difficult fortnight for Marshall, but the decision to have him sit out against the Bulls allowed him to focus on the fullback's job.
"He's really excited about it and it's his opportunity to push for a position," Kirwan said. "We're trying to build a complete football team and he needs to put his hand up this week, which I'm sure he will."
Benji Marshall says "It's exciting getting my first start" © Getty Images
Kirwan, meanwhile, said his team had to make a better start at Ellis Park, after conceding big early leads in all three matches to date.
"We're starting well for the first 10 minutes and then some errors are coming into our game and really affecting us," he said. "You have to be give credit to the opposition as well. It's just that we need to make sure we're on a level footing after 30 minutes."
Blues: Benji Marshall; Frank Halai, George Moala, Pita Ahki, Charles Piutau; Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu; Steven Luatua, Luke Braid, Brendon O'Connor; Tom Donnelly, Patrick Tuipulotu; Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Tom McCartney, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta'avao, Liaki Moli, Jordan Manihera, Bryn Hall, Simon Hickey, Jackson Willison.