Marshall's position will be obvious: Kirwan
August 10, 2013
Benji Marshall has set his sights on earning an All Blacks call-up © Getty Images
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan believes he will know within two or three weeks of training where his latest acquisition, league star Benji Marshall, will play in his side next year.
Kirwan said he didn't want to put Marshall under any pressure but his initial feeling was for him to play at fullback and in a pivotal-type role that he is used to in league.
"I think he wants to play 10. When you meet him he is the type of guy who wants to run a football team and we also think 12 because there is a lot going on for the 10s and you need 12s who can communicate and run a football team and try and help, so we are not putting any pressure on him," Kirwan said. "We think one of those three positions will be where he is at and we will just have to see him out there."
Marshall committed to two years with the Blues after announcing his decision on Saturday morning. Kirwan said discussions had played out over two months and he was excited at the way in which Marshall was 'up' for the challenge.
The Blues would not have chased Marshall if they did not think he was able to transfer his skills from league to rugby, Kirwan said. There were two key elements in their decision. One was the leadership skills Marshall had and his professionalism. Another factor was that he had been a winning player, with NRL titles, a World Cup title and Test matches.
"That's the type of player we need in the organisation. So that was a real attractive part of bringing the guy over," Kirwan said "He wants to do this and he is really motivated to be an All Black."
Marshall was ready for a change after 10 years at Wests Tigers and Kirwan, who transferred to league from rugby, not very successfully he said, could relate to that feeling.
"He just needs a new challenge and he is still young enough to do it and boyhood dreams so it was about sitting down and saying, 'If you want to do this it is going to be hard work, you're got to have to really commit to it' and he's up for it," Kirwan said.
Kirwan didn't think Marshall would be available for the Rugby League World Cup, but said he would not stand in his way.
"Now that he has officially signed, and that was as late as yesterday, next week I'll sit down and put a rugby plan around him and if he really wants to go to the World Cup then we will talk about it but I think they get back a little late. We get together early, November 28 this year, and he is going to need every minute he can get," Kirwan said.
There was also a remote possibility that Marshall could be involved in some ITM Cup action, although he hadn't signed up for that competition. Marshall was finishing a season like everyone else and he would need a break after that so it wasn't something that had been discussed with him as an appetiser to joining the Blues' build-up.
Kirwan said the change in direction Marshall had undertaken would rejuvenate him, and he spoke from experience saying his switch to league had made him feel 10 years younger.
"He'll love the change, it will be a real challenge. It's going to be really tough for him. He will be scrutinised by everyone and he's not going to do it [on] day one. It's going to take him a little while so he needs to be patient as well," Kirwan said.
The Blues boss said he wouldn't hold Marshall back from pursuing a Sevens option after his two-year contract was completed. There would be the attraction of competing in the Olympic Games in 2016.
"It's also a bit of a safety net for him, and for myself. He's won a World Cup in Touch so he will certainly be a great Sevens player if that's what he wants to do but he has firmly said to me that he wants to play 15s," Kirwan said.
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