NZRU opens exit door for Marshall
It is not exactly a state secret, but Benji Marshall is no longer a Rugby Union player.
The New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed on Wednesday that they have formally opened the exit door for the Rugby League convert to return to his preferred code.
Now that Marshall has formally been released from his Rugby Union contracts by the NZRU, it brings to an end the 29-year-old's brief foray into the 15-man game.
Marshall had asked for a release from his Blues and NZRU contracts on Monday, after speaking with Blues coach John Kirwan about his future – following a series of under-par performances since he moved over from League.
In a statement the NZRU said they, and the Blues, have agreed and confirmed the terms of Marshall's release from his Super Rugby contract.
Following last Friday's match against the Hurricanes, the Blues coach, Kirwan, and Benji Marshall had some frank and honest discussions and mutually agreed the best path forward was for Marshall to return to Rugby League.
Kirwan said that he told the player he was not good enough to make the team anymore.
"I sat down with Benji and said I wouldn't be able to pick him in the [matchday] 23," Kirwan said, adding: "I felt that he needed to take a step backwards to come forward, playing some club rugby and for the Blues development team to work on his game.
"I asked him honestly if he felt Rugby [Union] was the game for him and his response was that he felt like a League player playing Rugby Union and that things weren't happening as fast as he would have liked so we both decided it was probably best for him to return to playing League.
"The courage it took for Benji to take on this challenge is a testament to his character and I believe it took even more courage for him to say it's not working out so that shows the measure of the man."
Marshall said while his on-field performance had not lived up to his expectations, he felt he had become a better player and person for the experience.
"My wife and I have really enjoyed our time in New Zealand and I'd like to thank not only the people of Auckland but also New Zealand for the way in which we were embraced coming back here," Marshall said.
"I gave rugby a go and it didn't work out. However I feel like through being at the Blues I was able to find myself again, find some hunger, get fit and on top of that and more importantly I feel like I've become a better person," he added.
"On the field I certainly wanted to achieve more than how it panned out. It didn't go that way but in terms of life it did 100 per cent. The Blues gave me the opportunity to be myself and express myself and I feel like I'm leaving as a better player and a better person for it."
Blues Chief Executive Michael Redman thanked the NZRU for their help in reaching this agreement.
"I'd like to acknowledge the significant contribution and work put in by New Zealand Rugby to facilitate this outcome. It was certainly a complex issue and the support they have shown in assisting with this process is much appreciated."
The Blues will not be seeking a replacement player for Marshall.