Former Crusaders scrumhalf Justin Marshall will do anything to get his All Black jersey back, even if it means playing for bitter rivals Auckland in the NPC.
Marshall was this week released from his two-year contract at Leeds after the club was relegated from the English Premiership and has expressed his desire to return to New Zealand.
“Canterbury is in my heart – that would be my first option – but I have to weigh up all options,” Marshall told The Press. “But I might also fit into the plans in Auckland for example, where they could need a player of my experience while trying to develop someone in that position. I’ve got to be smart about it. I’ve got to see what is the best option for me and how I can challenge myself and the All Blacks selectors.”
Marshall said one of the positives of playing for a struggling side like Leeds was that he had learned to cope with playing under pressure and the subsequent slower and static ball. “As a player you have to become more creative to manipulate the game. You have to think on your feet a lot more to create opportunities. I’ve learned a lot while being here.”
He admitted that he would have to take a hefty pay cut to return to New Zealand after a deal at Leeds which “according to my agent was one of the best he had seen in the UK. So if it was only about money, I would stay at Leeds, cruise in Division One and still get paid the same. But to me it is important to play competitive rugby every week, because I am competitive. With only one-two-three years rugby left in me I want to get the most out of my career.”
Marshall said he wanted a contract which allowed him sit out part of the Super 14 or NPC to keep fresh, “because I want to play at my best. People might say you cannot pick and choose, but hey, I can really.”