Tom Marshall heads off to New Zealand

Friday 29 April 2022 Written by: Adam

The 22-year-old scored a try on his first Gallagher Premiership start away to champions Harlequins last month, and will fly out to New Zealand on Monday before returning to Newcastle in the autumn.

“Hopefully I’ll be playing quite a bit of rugby, because that’s what I really need,” said the Blyth native, who has represented Scotland at Under-20s level.

“As well as that it’ll be a different style of rugby, a new life experience and I’m looking forward to learning some new things. I don’t really know anyone out there so I’m going into it with a totally clean slate, just ready to embrace something new.

“Their weather should be pretty similar to over here, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty of rain, and I think the style of rugby will be fairly similar.

“They’ve had guys like Denny Solomona and Ben Smith come through their club, and they’ve got good players involved with them, so I’m just looking forward to getting over there and making the most of the opportunity.”

Newcastle Falcons academy manager and first team skills coach Mark Laycock believes the option has come at the right time for Marshall, saying: “It’s a brilliant opportunity for Tom, and I know he’ll make the most of it.

“Their director of rugby Hayden Finch and all the other guys at Green Island have been brilliant. They’ve been really accommodating in helping us get Tom over there, and the key is to play as much club rugby as he can.

“From there hopefully he might put himself into contention for some provincial rugby with Otago if it all goes well, before coming back to us in the autumn.”

Finch said: “Tom is heading over to play for the Green Island Grizzlies in the Dunedin Premier Rugby Competition. We’re the club of former All Black Ben Smith and current Super Rugby players Sam Gilbert, Ethan De Groot, Denny Solomona and Ray Nui, and we’re looking forward to Tom’s arrival.”

Explaining how the move came about, Laycock added: “We just put out a few feelers and had a few Zoom chats with people over in New Zealand, one of whom was the Falcons’ former head coach, Pete Russell. It was really useful to get his take on New Zealand rugby, and from there we spoke to a few different clubs to find the best fit for all parties.

“Tom is probably one of the guys who has been most affected by the whole Covid disruption to the rugby calendar over the last couple of years, and he hasn’t had as much game time as either we or he would have liked.

“It’s important that he takes this opportunity to develop, and it’s something we haven’t done too often as a club. I think Zach Kibirige was the last player we sent to New Zealand, and he really benefited from it, so it’s definitely an avenue we’ll continue to explore when it’s appropriate for the player.”