The battles line shave been drawn between the Wellington Hurricanes and the Auckland Blues ahead of tomorrows first preseason match in Masterton. While this will be a great opportunity for both teams to show their skills early in the season, much of the attention will be on the Blues Number 10, as Benji Marshall is confirmed to take the field in his first Super Rugby game.
“We’ll probably play Benji in all three pre-season games in some capacity” States Blues head coach, Sir John Kirwan. “So that’ll be good and I’m sure people will enjoy that. He wants to play 10. Most 10s can cover a couple of positions but he’ll be looking to start off at 10, see how he goes and then maybe give him a bit of time at fullback.”
“For us this year our big goal is to have a competitive extended squad so for some of the new boys and some of the guys that were around last year it’s a chance for them to put their hands up. Everyone’s going to get a game pre-season. Our All Blacks are back late so we’ll be playing everyone available and won’t be worrying about the result but we want to give everyone out there a bit of a crack so that we can start the season believing in the depth of our extended squad.”
The preseason games always bring a high level of excitement, especially when it takes two highly respected professional teams to the provinces as this match has done. Hurricanes head coach Mark Hammett shares that excitement commenting “We can’t wait to take this pre-season game to Masterton. We know there’s a strong rugby community up there, and it’s the home of some of our most loyal fans, so to play this game in front of them will be exciting for everyone. I’m sure the support at Memorial Park will be huge, and that will give the team a big boost in our pre-season campaign.”
“Playing the Blues will be a fantastic and entertaining match. They’re fierce competitors and an exciting side, which will certainly help prepare our team for another big season ahead.”
Kirwan’s thoughts on the game are similarly positive “We used to play in Masterton a bit back in my day and the last time I played there a Frenchman chucked a rooster onto the field, it was a bit of a trend back then, so if our game is anything like that there should be a fantastic atmosphere.”
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a great way to start the season and the boys can’t wait to get out there as well. It’s always good to travel to the provinces, albeit in the Hurricanes region, but it’s great for the locals that will get to the opportunity to watch some Super Rugby.”
All the talk in the world really matters little though, tomorrow the action on the field will do the talking. A lot of questions have been posed, will Marshall make the grade? Can the Hurricanes kick the season of with a bang? One thing is certain, tomorrows match will have something for everyone, and to borrow the old cliche Rugby will be the winner on the day.
Main Picture Credit: Wikipedia