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Blues bosses heading to Sydney for Marshall talks

Coach Sir John Kirwan wants Benji Marshall to play for the Blues on a two year deal

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Article Published: Friday 19 July 2013|

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan and outgoing Blues chief executive Andy Dalton will meet with Benji Marshall on Sunday and try to tempt him to move to Auckland.

Kirwan is expected to discuss three positional options for Marshall and a possible extended break after the NRL season in a bid to get the Wests Tigers star to sign a two year Blues contract.

Dalton's presence with Kirwan suggests that the Blues are getting into serious negotiations but even then a formal offer is not expected to be put on the table yet.

While Kirwan holds talks with Marshall Dalton is expected to talk to his manager, Martin Tauber and attempt to find out what they will need to put in an offer that will be more tempting that the Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels who are understood to be the other contenders.

"It's the next stage; a case of moving it to the next level. We'll be a lot closer to knowing which direction we're going after this meeting," Kirwan told Fairfax Media.

"This weekend is about sitting down together and making sure we're on the same page; give Benji the vision of the franchise and talk to him about what we want from players coming into the franchise.

"We're not going to be rushed or pressured about the possibility of losing him - that's not what we are about."

Kirwan is understood to be flexible on a number of options but ideally he would like Marshall to miss this year's Rugby League World Cup and to sit out the NPC so that he is well rested ahead of next year's Super Rugby season.

"When the Tigers finish if he does decide to come to us and we can work some sort of deal out then we'll give him a bloody good break because the next two years of his life are going to be pretty intense.

"Most contracts are two-years. Not too many players want to do five years as they don't know where the market is going. We'll see what he comes to the party with.

"Two years is probably enough for both of us to get an idea. For me it's a case of getting this first face-to-face meeting out of the way and seeing if this next phase is possible."

An advantage that Kirwan has over his rivals at the Waratahs and Rebels is that as former Japan coach he still has many contacts which he could use to get Marshall a top up contract to offset the reduced pay packet that Marshall would have to accept if he switches codes.

A 12 game stint in Japan could bring in as much as $1 million but this would be better done at the end of the 2014 rugby season.

"That has to come from him," said Kirwan.

"Ideally we'd want him to come over and rest after the season, then have a big preseason. Japan would be something I would be waiting for them to talk about rather than me offer," he said.

Kirwan believes that 28-year-old Marshall could make a quick transition from rugby league to rugby union and sees him playing at fullback or second five-eighth, as well as No.10.

"That's one of the things I'm going to talk to him about. We'll be talking about positional play. At the end of the day he's a lot like Sonny Bill (Williams). "

"He's a special player. Benji could play at fullback and in the midfield.

"All you've got to do is look at the quality of the player. You've got to realise he's played rugby until he was 16. He's not foreign to the game. "

"He played a lot of touch (rugby). He knows (All Blacks halfback) Piri (Weepu) really well.

"The most important thing would be not to put any pressure on him to perform straight away in the transition period."

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