Marshall aware of expectations in Auckland
High profile rugby league star Benji Marshall got an understanding of the desire of Blues fans to see him succeed in rugby when he was introduced at the public announcement of the squad in Auckland on Wednesday.
And that had been typical of the reaction from the moment he and his wife stepped off the plane in Auckland to begin his new football life.
"It's been great. The public in general have been very welcoming both to my wife and I. It has been refreshing to have a bit of a change and everyone saying 'Welcome home and all the best'. It's pretty exciting but nervous at the same time."
He said he was still the boy from Whakatane and not the player who's been given star status since making the change of code. He only met his team-mates at the announcement launch on Wednesday and said it was a bit nerve-wracking not knowing what pre-conceived ideas they may have had of him.
He has had a five-week break since the end of the NRL and started training last week.
"It's been pretty tough but I am going to have to be in good shape for the start."
"I must admit through the middle years [of his 10 years with the West Tigers in the NRL competition] I lost a bit of interest [in rugby] but just recently with a few of the attacking structures that have changed a bit it has got me back into it.
"And in the last couple of months I have probably watched more rugby than I have in the last year. I have been doing quite a bit of study and just making sure when I come back that I am pretty ready to go."
Marshall said there were a couple of aspects of the transition that he would have to cope with. He quipped he wasn't going to get up from tackles and play the ball.
"Interpretation around the ruck is probably going to be a big thing. They haven't changed dramatically since I played my last game in 2001.
"I still remember how to play [and there are] just little things like adapting whether I am playing at 10 or 15 and adapting to the defence being so close. That's probably going to be the biggest thing."
He took comfort from the impact Israel Folau had been able to make, especially since he had never played rugby before and had adapted very quickly.
"I think I'm a pretty good learner, so with the right help and the right coaching staff that we do have I'm pretty excited about being able to learn new things every day."
He said he was happy to play wherever he was needed, fullback, first or second five-eighths. He grew up playing halfback or first five and a little at fullback.
"I think the plan is originally to start at fullback and get a feel for the structures of the game and not have to take too much responsibility and organising and down the track moving into 10."
He said if he played first five he would like to bring more of a running game and not so much distribution while at fullback it was a case of being able to play what he saw.
"Sort of like what Israel Dagg did against Australia when he took the short-side on and played numbers down the short-side," he said.
Marshall's immediate focus has been on watching Blues footage from recent games, but he will be stepping up to look more at Aaron Cruden and Dan Carter to get more of an idea of what makes them so good in their position and to apply what he can do on top of that.
But he has been enjoying the more attacking approach the All Blacks have been taking with their game.
"I'm really enjoying watching the All Blacks play and hope they get a perfect record this year and hopefully one day I can live my childhood dream of achieving that [All Blacks status]," he said.
Marshall noted Mick Byrne was working [as kicking coach] with the All Blacks, and was part of the Blues set-up and having worked with him a little, he was looking forward to working with him again.
Marshall said he wasn't a fool. He knew there was a honeymoon period of settling in but it all came down to performance on the field, ultimately.