3 Aug 2013

Marshall not viewed as first five for Blues

9:16 am on 3 August 2013

The rugby league star Benji Marshall won't be playing at first five should he sign with the Blues for next season's Super Rugby competition.

Marshall's mulling over an offer from the Auckland-based franchise as well as one from the New South Wales Waratahs, after getting an early release from his NRL club, the Wests Tigers.

But the Blues seem to have the inside running as it appears he can't rely on an Australian Rugby Union top-up to sign with an Australian franchise, since he says he won't play for the Wallabies.

While Marshall's playmaking ability make him a first five candidate, Sir John Kirwan says that's not where he plans to play him.

Kirwan says he's likely to try him at second five-eighth and fullback, with the current fullback Charles Piutau able to fill the centre position vacated by Rene Ranger.

Piutau was the leading ball-runner in Super Rugby this season, making the most clean breaks (24) and beating most defenders (60), and has been elevated to the All Blacks squad.

A former New Zealand Under-15 representative, Marshall has not played the 15-man code since he was 16, but says he thinks he can play a few positions and would like to be in control, so 10, 12 or even 15 suits him.

There's also the option of playing Marshall in the 12 jersey outside the All Blacks first five-eighth Beauden Barrett, who's also considering a contract offer from the Blues.

Kirwan expects to know both players' decisions within the next week.