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Kirwan: 'All our dreams have come true'

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Sportal.co.nz     30 Jan 2014     Getty Images

When Marshall was first signed by the Blues after his lengthy and notable career in rugby league with both Wests Tigers and the Kiwis, it was felt by most that his initiation back into the rugby game he played in his teens would be at fullback.

But Marshall has demonstrated a degree of adaptation that had seen him looked at closer to the scrum.

"Now he's just got to play and that won't be easy," he said.

"We pursued a player who we thought would deliver and he's done that 10-fold. He's really serious about this. He's done everything we've asked, he's done a lot of homework on the game. He's constantly improving and working on that. So the next step is getting him out there and the more time we can give him before the season starts the better."

Kirwan said: "There were a lot of unknowns when Benji hit town and when I looked at him as a league player I thought 10 [first five-eighths] or 15 [fullback] and he's really stepped into that 10 role and he has the personality of a 10 so he takes control, likes to run the game plan and so we've really concentrated on putting him there and he hasn't trained at 15 at all and we're just going to put him at 10 at this stage."

Marshall would be expected to show his kicking game in the same manner as all the five-eighths in the squad.

Kirwan admitted the side were probably underdone, they had no game fitness and no contact but what they were looking for was clarity in performance.

"And we're not expecting it all to be there straight away," he said.

There would be changes in the Blues approach. "We've changed quite a bit so it will take a bit for them to get used to it," he said.

A solution for the side's issue at lock where they are attempting to make up for the absences of Ali Williams and Anthony Boric and the injury to Cullum Retallick was close but until a contract was completed he was not getting excited about the prospect. Kirwan thought the issue might have been resolved by Wednesday but it was a case of waiting.

He said he had given himself a deadline of Friday and if it wasn't met he would be looking for an alternative solution.

Kirwan said former All Black Jerome Kaino had a big game in Japan this weekend which if his side lost could see Kaino back in the Blues environment in the next few weeks. But he added that he wasn't anticipating that.

The starting XV for the Hurricanes game is:

1.Sam Prattley, 2.James Parsons, 3.Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 4.Liaki Moli, 5.Patrick Tuipulotu, 6.Kane Barrett, 7.Brendon O'Connor, 8.Peter Saili, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Benji Marshall, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Jackson Willison, 13.George Moala, 14.Lolagi Visinia, 15.Albert Nikoro.

Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Tom McCartney, Angus Ta'avao, William Lloyd, Tom Murday, Jordan Manihera, Chris Vui, Jamison Gibson-Park, Sonatane Takulua, Baden Kerr, Matt McGahan, Marty Swart.