New Zealand game time aids Marshall’s progress

Wednesday 24 August 2022 Written by: Adam

The Blyth native scored a try away to Harlequins on his first Gallagher Premiership start last season, and the quest for further game time saw him spending four months on the other side of the world.

Now back on Tyneside after his exploits for New Zealand’s Green Island Grizzlies, the former Scotland Under-20s cap said: “I enjoyed the experience on and off the field, and hopefully it’s set me up well for the Falcons’ season.

“I was right down in the south of the South Island, playing for a team called Green Island in Dunedin.

“I’ve had back-to-back winters and I’m about to head into a third, so I’m used to the rain!”

Explaining the thinking behind his move and reporting positive experiences, Marshall said: “The big reason for going there was to get some regular game time, and I was playing 80 minutes for them pretty much every week.

“They play in the Dunedin Premier League, and it’s been interesting to play in a different competition. I missed the first round but played a full season after that, and got the minutes I was after.”

Experiencing a different playing style, he added: “There’s a lot of razzle-dazzle in New Zealand club rugby, even in bad weather, and not much structure.

“It was off-the-cuff rugby a lot of the time, playing what you see, although the playing style and the conditions didn’t always match up. It was raining or snowing half the time but guys were still throwing it around, whereas a more structured game in those conditions probably would have seen us winning more games.

“It’s all a learning experience, though, and I’m glad I went out there. I don’t think I met another English person at any of the clubs, which in some ways was good. You want to have that different experience and really take on board what the rugby over there is like, and hopefully I’ll benefit from it. I’d never been to New Zealand before, so that was awesome, and I met some great people.”

Looking to hit the ground running with the Falcons as they open their pre-season account away to Leicester on Friday, Marshall hopes the experience of going to Dunedin will stand him in good stead.

“For guys like me who just needed to get some rugby, the timing works quite well with how the two seasons align,” he said.

“It meant I missed the first four weeks of the Falcons’ pre-season, but I’ve caught up on what the Newcastle boys are doing it and am properly back into it.

“I’m looking forward to ripping in now, and hopefully building on the last year. I’d love to really break through, and I’m just putting the work in to try and make that happen.”

Reporting encouraging early signs from his return to Kingston Park, he added: “Everyone around the club seems to be looking forward to a really positive season, and we’ve changed quite a bit of what we’re doing in terms of game plan.

“I’ll obviously not go too deeply into that here, because on the pitch is where we want to show it.”

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