Star rugby league convert Benji Marshall made an impressive start to his Blues career on Saturday, playing 40 minutes against the Hurricanes in a pre-season trial.
We caught up with Marshall post-game to find out how he enjoyed his first game of union in over 10 years:†
Benji you’ve just finished your first game of rugby union, how did you find it?
It was a bit of a blur to be honest. The first 20 I struggled to get a feel for it and then after we had that quarter time break I realised what it was going to take to direct the team around and I was really happy. I did everything I wanted to achieve. I didn’t set the game on fire but in terms of trying to get the control and feel for playing 10 everything I wanted to get out of it I did.
What did you think the hardest thing about the game was?
When you don’t have the ball it’s a pretty tough sport so I just tried to do as much as I could in that second quarter to make sure we held onto the ball and tried to control the possession and once we did that it felt great.
From a personal point of view I’m happy with what I got out of it. It wasn’t about winning the game and it wasn’t about trying to be the best player on the field it was just trying to get through what we practiced and get a feel for the game. I had Ardie Savea coming from the inside a lot of times and got a good feel for what’s going to be coming at me so it was good. I enjoyed every part of it and looking forward to the next game.
You hit a couple of rucks too, how did you find that?
I hit a couple but I don’t think I was hitting anybody! It’s just different, I think until you actually get a feel for the game you don’t really understand. I still don’t know the rules around the ruck so I was just guessing there to be honest but it’s a learning curve and it’s something hopefully I can get better at each game. I really enjoyed playing 10 though something I can probably see myself doing.
So you’re feeling like 10 is going to be your position going forward?
Whatever’s best for the team, I’ve trained there the whole pre-season and felt pretty comfortable so if that’s what’s best for the team and I’m playing well enough then I’ll play there.†
How did you find the defence?
Yes alright, just different, a lot of sliding defence and the systems are so much different to league and that’s something that I’m slowly getting used to but I’ve definitely got a lot to learn. I suppose it’s the first step in a massive line of steps to get in the right place but that’s what it’s about, it’s my first game in over 10 years so I’m happy with what I got out of it.
How did it feel with the rest of the boys out there?
The first 20 was a bit rusty, I think we had about six turnovers and they scored three times off those turnovers so I learnt a big lesson after the first 20 which was to keep us a bit more direct and control the ball and make sure we had enough people in rucks to be able to keep the ball so I think it was a big learning curve for myself but I’ve still got to get better.
As a 10 are you keen to do whole things with kick-offs, restarts and penalty goals?
First time I did kick-offs today, I’d never even practiced them! I just on the spot got told I was doing it so what the well, may as well playing 10 hey, playing 10 have a go! Goal kicking is an option but today I just wanted to worry about playing, I didn’t want to try and get involved in too much, my priority was to get a feel for playing 10, try and control the team, the first 20 I was a bit 50-50 but the second 20 I felt comfortable.