August 10 2013.
The Blues announce that rugby league star Benji Marshall will be joining the franchise for the 2014 season.
Marshall, who had captained the New Zealand rugby league team to win the 2008 World Cup and 2010 Four Nations, played the 2014 pre-season for the Blues and had one start plus five appearances off the bench, of only moderate quality, in Super Rugby. Then, on April 23 2014, the Blues made the following announcement:
“New Zealand Rugby and the Blues have today agreed and confirmed the terms of Benji Marshall’s release from his Investec Super Rugby contract.
Following Friday night’s match against the Hurricanes, Blues head coach Sir John 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.
29-year-old 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 said.
“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 head coach Sir John Kirwan said:
“I sat down with Benji and said I wouldn’t be able to pick him in the 23 this week and felt that he needed to take a step backwards to come forwards, playing some club rugby and for the Blues development team to work on his game,” Kirwan said.
“I asked him honestly if he felt rugby 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.”
Blues chief executive Michael Redman thanked New Zealand Rugby for their help in reaching this agreement.
“I’d like to acknowledge the significant contribution and work put in by the NZRU 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.”