Benji Marshall nervous ahead of first trial
January 31, 2014
Benji Marshall is still "acclimatising" to rugby union © Getty Images
Benji Marshall concedes he hasn't felt as nervous before a match since making his National Rugby League debut for Wests Tigers in 2003, but Blues coach Sir John Kirwan says the former Kiwis playmaker need not be concerned as he has delivered "10-fold" on expectations so far.
Marshall gets to put what he has learned from two months of pre-season training to the test when he runs out in the No.10 jersey in a trial against the Hurricanes in Masterton on Saturday.
"I'm nervous, there's no doubt about that," Marshall said on Thursday. "I haven't been this nervous since probably my first-grade debut, but it's not like a scared nervous. It's more a not-sure-how-it's-going-to-go nervous."
Marshall said there were still aspects of rugby he was getting to grips with, like where to position himself in certain situations and even the finer points of the rules, and he said he thought the transition back to the game he last played as a teenager would have been a bit easier.
"It's so much different," he said. "Everything I learnt in league I've had to throw out the window. It's like going back to school and learning the two-times table all over again."
Marshall last played a rugby game in 2002, when he was at school on the Gold Coast and turned out at first five-eighth for the Coolangatta-Tweed Barbarians. He made his Wests Tigers debut a year later before spending 11 seasons, and winning a premiership, with the Sydney club. He also played 27 Tests and was an influential member of New Zealand's triumphant 2008 World Cup campaign.
"The coaching staff have been pretty good with not putting too much pressure of me to be man of the match, or that sort of stuff," Marshall said of his career to date with the Blues. "It's pretty much just about learning the reality of the game and what's going to happen, and getting a feel for playing."
When Marshall joined the Blues late last year, indications were that he would be used initially at fullback. But Kirwan has said that Marshall had stepped into the role of five eighth, adding that he had the personality of a No.10.
"I think all our hopes have come true," Kirwan said. "We pursued a player who we thought would deliver, and he's done that 10-fold. He's really serious about this. He's done everything we've asked. We just need to put him out there."
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