Marshall returns to Sydney

Benji Marshall has retained the Blues No 10 jersey for their warm-up match against the Waratahs on Friday.

The former rugby league player started at flyhalf against the Hurricanes last Saturday, in what was his first rugby union match since the age of 17. Now he returns to the city where he represented NRL side, the Wests Tigers.

'This weekend's a little bit about Benji going back to Sydney,' said Blues coach John Kirwan. 'Everyone's saying it's a big week for him but he loves big weeks so for us it's just getting him out there.

'He's had his first game so it would be nice to get him back out there with a bit more pressure on and just say, “go for it, get into it and enjoy it”. Last week was a good start and this week we just want him to keep building on it.'

Meanwhile, Frank Halai will start on the right wing for the Blues, while Francis Saili and Charles Piutau will both come off the bench in the second half.

'Frank's been with us for three weeks now so he's transitioned right in and will be starting and playing 40 minutes,' Kirwan said. 'Francis will be playing 20 minutes and so will Charles, so we're looking to transition the All Blacks back in.

“The hard thing for them is they've been away while the other boys have had six weeks of training in their legs. Those two have come in really fit and are ready to go but we just need to make sure that we protect them early.'

Blues – 15 Albert Nikoro, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Benji Marshall, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Kane Barrett, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Sam Prattley.
Subs: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Tom McCartney, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 William Lloyd, 20 Patrick Tuipulotu, 21 Jordan Manihera, 22 Brendon O'Connor, 23 Sonatane Takulua, 24 Chris Noakes, 25 Simon Hickey, 26 Francis Saili, 27 Lolagi Visinia, 28 Baden Kerr, 29 Charles Piutau.

Source: APNZ
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt