Gibson: Benji Marshall could be the next Folau

Last updated 19:50 19/12/2013
Benji Marshall
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PIVOTAL ROLE: Blues coach Sir John Kirwan believes Benji Marshall possesses the qualities to be the club's first-choice five-eighth.

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Former All Black Daryl Gibson, now assistant coach of the NSW Waratahs, says don't discount Benji Marshall making an Israel Folau-like impact on Super Rugby next year.

Folau proved the revelation of 2013, picking up the Australian Super Rugby rookie of the year award before equalling fellow dual international Lote Tuqiri's calendar-year tryscoring record for the Wallabies.

In what promises to be an electric night at Allianz Stadium, Folau and Marshall are set to line up as opposing fullbacks in the Waratahs' second pre-season trial against the Blues on February 7.

"I reckon it'll probably be worth the admission alone seeing Benji's transition," Gibson told AAP on Thursday.

"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."

Rarely has a player made a more spectacular entrance to rugby than the code-hopping Folau.

Gibson, though, says it would be foolish to think Marshall couldn't make a similar mark after a decade mesmerising opposition defences in the NRL.

"For the last three or four years, he's been one of the most outstanding rugby league players for New Zealand," Gibson said.

"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."

Playing in the halves for Wests Tigers and the Kiwis, Marshall won a premiership, a World Cup and the Golden Boot as the international rugby league player of the year in 2010.

But Gibson believes the 28-year-old will revel in the No.15 jumper.

"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."

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