Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson believes the Blues' Benji Marshall could make an Israel Folau-like impact on Super Rugby.
Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson believes new Blues signing Benji Marshall could make an Israel Folau-like impact on Super Rugby in 2014.
Folau has been a revelation since joining the Waratahs at the start of the year. The former NRL and AFL player has won the Australian Super Rugby rookie of the year award and equalled Lote Tuqiri's calendar-year tryscoring record for the Wallabies.
And Folau and fellow league convert Marshall are set to line up as opposing full-backs when the Waratahs host the Blues in a pre-season match in Sydney on February 7.
“I reckon it'll probably be worth the admission alone seeing Benji's transition,” Gibson told AAP.
“I'm sure you'll get a lot of Wests Tigers supporters being interested in how he's going.
“Then also to see Folau, two rugby league recruits going up against each other, it's very exciting.”
Few players coming over from rugby league have made a more spectacular entrance in their debut season in rugby as Folau. But Gibson said he wouldn't be surprised if Marshall made a similar impact.
“For the last three or four years, he's been one of the most outstanding rugby league players for New Zealand,” added Gibson.
“You never can say he can't do something. He's got a rugby background. He grew up in New Zealand with the game, so he's got an exciting challenge in front of him, I believe.
“He's joined a very young and talented Auckland team that's very similar to the Waratahs in that it's building its culture and building a team that can win.”
Marshall was a superstar in league winning a NRL premiership title with Wests Tigers in 2005 and the Rugby League World Cup with New Zealand in 2008.
Although he played predominantly in the halves as a league player, Gibson believes he will shine at full-back for the Blues.
“They've probably got him right at fullback,” he said.
“It's something we spoke a lot about with Israel, about where would he have the easiest transition into rugby union and I think fullback will suit Benji.
“He will get a lot more time and space as opposed to playing at flyhalf, first-receiver. He's going to have less time than what he would have in rugby league.
“Israel's really pointed the way with transitions. He's done phenomenally well in his first year of rugby union and within 10 games you could see he's got something.
“Now it's all in front in Benji and it's very exciting.”