Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Benji Marshall Quits as Blues Try to Break Losing Streak

So this week in Blues camp, a fairly unsurprising bombshell was dropped. The news that many had been expecting. Benji Marshall asked for a release from his contract with New Zealand Rugby and the Blues. Needless to say it was granted and Marshall is looking to head back to the NRL as soon as possible.

I wasn’t in the least bit shocked by the news considering Marshall is so used to being the star of his games, to then being branded as “Benchy Marshall” due to his lack of time on the playing field. Having only played 212 minutes this season for the Auckland team he has been known as the “highest paid bench warmer in Super Rugby.” So really is it that surprising that he wants to head back to the 13 man code?

Having written an article about Marshall earlier in the season about his convert from rugby league – for which, I did receive some flack from some friends – it may have seemed like I didn’t want him to succeed at the game. I did. I really wanted him to do well. Mostly to prove me wrong. But I just didn’t think he deserved to get a starting spot in the team straight away. Regardless of how great a league player is, the common misconception is that switching codes is easy. Obviously not. I mean, when you look at players like Israel Folau who has done tremendously well for the Waratahs and the Wallabies, it makes it little easier to see that Folau is one of those players that have a raw talent. He’s just a great athlete. And someone that people want to watch play.

Given that I was a little critical at the being of the season in regards to Marshall joining my beloved Blues, I will say that I’m a little disappointed that he didn’t at least stick it out for the rest of the season. A whole season of ITM Cup would have worked wonders for him, I think.

In saying that though, one thing I do respect about Marshall, and I think it’s his best quality, is his honesty. He has stood up and admitted that he is “an average rugby player.” He told the NZ Herald earlier in the week that his “lack of technical aspects of rugby union was what was letting me down.”

It takes a lot of courage for someone of Marshall’s calibre to stand up and admit that he may have made the wrong decision in switching codes.

However, going to the famous and most overly used quote “practice makes perfect”, I do wish Marshall had been given a little more game time before he made his decision. I think dropping him down to the Development team right from the start of the season would have been a good idea. Getting him in club rugby for a while, he would have gotten all the game time he needed to learn the ins and outs of the game and to also build up his confidence. From what we have seen, confidence is something that Marshall has been lacking for the time that he did spend on the field.

Last week’s lose to the Hurricanes in Wellington clearly showed that he just wasn’t ready for the intensity of Super Rugby. He didn’t only lack confidence but he lacked the basic kicking and handling skills it takes to play in the number 10 jersey. Personally, I think he may have told himself that if he didn’t perform in that game then he was out.

So, he is now on the hunt for an NRL club. It may not be as easy as first expected, as 12 of the 14 teams have said that he is not needed or that they simply don’t have room for him. Being a Wests Tigers fan, I was hoping that they would take him back. Given he parted on good terms and saw out the season with them, but they don’t have any space. And not to mention they have been doing extremely well without him.

I put bets on the Cronulla Sharks taking him. Team him up with ex Tigers team mate Beau Ryan and see if he can make an impact there. They haven’t been playing well at all and maybe Marshall is the new X-Factor they need.

I imagine that sometime over the next few days we will hear about the future of Benji Marshall but for now, the Blues will be working hard to take on the Waratahs over the weekend at Eden Park as they currently sit at the bottom of the New Zealand Conference. I personally, will be expecting a try or two from the great George Moala. We shall sit tight and see what the weekend brings for all Super Rugby teams. It’s going to be good one, that’s for sure.



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