Crusaders fullback Tom Marshall: No magic
Even with All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg scrutinising his every move from the left wing, Tom Marshall says he feels no pressure to defend his spot.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has again opted to start Marshall at fullback in a bid to reduce Dagg's kicking workload in tonight's match and has given no indication just when he will transfer the international back to his No15 jersey.
But Marshall refuses to be pulled into the trap of trying to produce a magical play each time he gets the ball. Silencing those punters who believe he is just keeping Dagg's spot warm until Blackadder changes his mind is not a goal, he says.
"I don't really think it's best for me to go out there and try to prove a point and that sort of thing," Marshall says. "If I do my job well the coaches will be happy and that's how I see it."
Last year Marshall, 21, only expected to play a limited part in his first Super campaign. But when Dagg tore his quadriceps against the Stormers midway through the season he was promoted to fullback and totalled 13 caps.
Although he doesn't have fond memories of his performance in the final against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, there is little point dwelling on what he could have done better, he says.
"I had a pretty average game but, you know, that happens. You can only learn from that – just being in that occasion, there was a lot of pressure going into it and you can only get better from that.
"Personally, I didn't really get caught up in the occasion. I can't really remember the game that well. "
Openside flanker Matt Todd, meanwhile, believes the Crusaders have to adjust more quickly to the breakdown rulings after referee Chris Pollock pounded them at Eden Park last week.
South African Jaco Peyper will control tonight's match and Todd said the key to reduce the penalty count was to be technically sound and adjust to the calls.