Benji Marshall will continue his learning curve at No 10 when he returns to Sydney for the Blues' pre-season clash with the Waratahs on Friday.
The former Wests Tigers superstar, who has a solid 40-minute hit out in last weekend's 38-35 loss to the Hurricanes, will start in a Blues team that will also feature numerous all All Blacks as coach Sir John Kirwan steps up preparations for the upcoming Super Rugby season.
Former All Black lock Tom Donnelly will pull on Blues jersey for the first time in Sydney after making the move north from the Crusaders in the off-season while international winger Frank Halai will start on the right.
Young stars Francis Saili and Charles Piutau, who shone for the All Blacks on their Northern tour last November, are named on the bench and expected to be introduced for the second 40.
Noting that it would indeed be a big weekend for Marshall, who left Sydney at the end of the last NRL season, Kirwan said his new first-five was taking his new role in his stride.
"This weekend's a little bit about Benji going back to Sydney, everyone's saying it's a big week for him but he loves big weeks so for us it's just getting him out there," Kirwan said.
"He's had his first game so it would be nice to get him back out there with a bit more pressure on and just say 'go for it, get into it and enjoy it'. Last week was a good start and this week we just want him to keep building on it."
Blues: Sam Prattley, James Parsons, Angus Ta'avao, Liaki Moli, Tom Donnelly, Kane Barrett, Luke Braid, Peter Saili; Bryn Hall, Benji Marshall, Tevita Li, Jackson Willison, George Moala, Frank Halai, Albert Nikoro.
Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Tom McCartney, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, William Lloyd, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jordan Manihera, Brendon O'Connor, Sonatane Takulua, Chris Noakes, Simon Hickey, Francis Saili, Lolagi Visinia, Baden Kerr, Charles Piutau.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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