Super Rugby

Benji has the Blues and just wants to get out

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 9:52am

High-profile rugby code-hopper Benji Marshall wants to quit rugby union for an immediate return to league after struggling for game time with the Auckland Blues Super 15 side, the team confirmed on Monday.

The former rugby league star with Wests Tigers switched to union and the Blues in a blaze of publicity late last year, saying he wanted to make the All Blacks national team.

But the New Zealand-born playmaker has never been comfortable with his new code and played only 212 minutes of the first eight games of the season.

It just hasn’t worked out, it is disappointing. He’s not had the game time he’d like
Benji Marshall’s agent Martin Tauber

The Blues confirmed that Marshall has now asked to be released from his contract.

"All parties are currently in discussions regarding this request and need to work through a formal process before making any further comment," the Blues said.

Media reports said the 29-year-old was already putting out feelers to clubs in Australia's National Rugby League who may be interested in him.

English Super League club Salford has reportedly also expressed an interest.

Marshall made his first-class debut for the Tigers in 2003 and went on to play 196 games for the club. He also played 27 tests for the New Zealand Kiwis, captaining the side from 2009-2012.

But he struggled in rugby union after moving to the Blues on a deal worth NZ$500,000 (HK$3.32 million) a season.

Of eight Super matches, he made only one 80-minute appearance, against the Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, came off the bench five times and was not used twice.

His most recent appearance was against the Wellington Hurricanes on Friday when he came on just before half-time when the Blues led. They went on to lose the match 39-20.

Coach John Kirwan said afterwards they "lost a lot of direction in the second half", suggesting problems with the way Marshall was directing the side from the crucial fly-half position.

Marshall's agent Martin Tauber told News Corp yesterday: "It just hasn't worked out, it is disappointing. He's not had the game time he'd like. This has all happened over the last 36 hours."

Kirwan said he had spoken with Marshall and praised the fly half-fullback, who had also hoped to play for the New Zealand sevens team at the 2016 Olympics.

Additional reporting by Reuters