League convert Benji Marshall is said to be fitting into the Blues squad well, ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season.
With a rugby league player joining the union code, there’s always the concern whether they’ll make the transition easily, but former World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Graham Henry is happy with Marshall’s progress.
‘He's starting to feel comfortable in the group, which is good,’ said Henry, who is assisting head coach John Kirwan at the Blues. ‘It's the first time he's used the ball in rugby [union] since he was a kid so it's going to take him a while to get into the rugby union mentality rather than the rugby league mentality.
‘He's a mature guy, he's professional, he's played a lot of football and he's pretty fit. He's starting to get a feel for the game. That's going to take a while and he needs to play some rugby for that to happen but that will happen and I'm encouraged by what I see.’
Marshall himself is pleased with the way he has grasped the 15-man game.
‘I've slotted in at 10 and slotted in at 15 in a few of the structures, and both of them I feel comfortable with,’ he said. ‘I don't know everything I probably need to know yet, but I feel comfortable that they suit me probably the best.’
Kirwan said he was impressed with Marshall's first week, but said that it will take time for the player to familiarise himself with the finer details of rugby.
‘I said to him, rugby league can be one-dimensional sometimes,’ Kirwan said. 'Everything's in front of you, everyone's running forwards or backwards, whereas in rugby union everything is three-dimensional because you've got different angles. But he's a quick learner … he's been more excited about the challenges than anything else.'
The Blues play their first pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Masterton on 1 February, with their first game of the season against the Highlanders on 22 February.
Photo: Hannah JohnstonGetty Images