Marshall's All Black dream
Marshall's All Black dreamSHARE
He may have a long way to go, but former Rugby League star Benji Marshall has set his sights on eventually playing for the All Blacks.
The talented new Blues recruit is set to take his first steps on that journey when the Auckland franchise face the Hurricanes in a pre-season friendly this weekend, but he has made it clear that the ultimate goal is to play Test rugby for New Zealand.
He told Fairfax NZ News whilst playing for the All Blacks is his dream, he knows he has got a lot of developing to do before he gets there.
"Long term the ultimate goal is to make the All Blacks. To do that you have to be the best. I'm still a long way off that. I'll be happy to just cement a spot somewhere in the team for the season.
"I want to be there for Round One but if I'm not ready, I'm not ready, and I'm sure with the honesty in the club they'll tell me if I'm not ready," he said.
Marshall explained that he would not have made the move if he did not believe he could make it at the highest level, and is looking forward to showing what he has to offer this season.
"That's what it's about for me. I want to be the best and I don't like losing. I'm not expecting it, but if that happens then it's dream achieved from when I was a kid. If not, hopefully we win the competition here," he said.
Although Blues coach John Kirwan was undecided over Marshall's best position when he signed him, he is now confident that he will thrive at flyhalf, which is where he is expected to play against the Hurricanes this weekend.
"He's been fantastic, the last two weeks have been really intensive but he's blended in fine, he has been playing a lot at 10, hasn't done much at 15, and so far, so good. He's doing everything he can… and we just need to get him out there to have a bit of a crack at it," said Kirwan.
The former All Black wing said that the key with Marshall will be to give him time to settle in and adjust to the different demands that rugby presents.
"What we don't need to do is put pressure on Benji to be a great rugby player in week one. I think he will be a great rugby player, but it will take him a little while to get used to the finer parts of our game. This is a long-term project, and we think he's going be a good 10, so we'll just go with that," he said.
Marshall admitted that he struggled initially to get to grips with the new code, but added that he is learning all the time.
"The problem was at the start I wanted to know everything straight away. I'm one of those people if I'm not good at something I'll go hard until I get good at it. But I had to break it down and take a step back.
"That was pretty hard for me. But I feel like how far I've come in just a couple of weeks is good. I've still got long way to go, man. We haven't even touched on rucks yet. I'm just learning the attack structures. Now we're looking at the defensive side of things," he explained.