Rugby: Here comes Benji!

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

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Benji Marshall of Whakatane. Photo / File
Benji Marshall of Whakatane. Photo / File

The Chiefs will play a pre-season match against the Blues in Rotorua that could see Benji Marshall take the field.

The pre-season hit-out on Friday, February 14, at Rotorua International Stadium, will be the last pre-season match for both clubs before the Super 15 kicks off.

Barring injury, Whakatane superstar Marshall will be available to play in the match for his new team, the Blues.

Marshall famously switched codes at the end of the 2013 NRL season after a long stint with the Wests Tigers.

The match will mark the final occasion for both Super 15 clubs to test their sides against quality opposition before the 2014 season.

Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman said fans could expect to see some of the best players from both squads on display.

"It is week three of the pre-season period, so I would think both the Chiefs and the Blues will field some top-line players in that game."

Rotorua International Stadium staff said it had been at least three years since a Chiefs pre-season match had been held there.

Flexman said they chose Rotorua as the venue for the fans in the area.

"From a management and coaching level, we have a genuine commitment to give as much access as possible to our broad fan base," he said.

It had been a reasonably long period since the Chiefs last played in Rotorua and it was time to a bring a game to the city.

"We felt that Rotorua has been historically an excellent venue and as an organisation we understand our responsibility to our wider fan base."

The Chiefs have only two pre-season matches next year, including their first against the Queensland Reds in Toowoomba on February 8.

A week after their game in Rotorua the Chiefs head to Christchurch to play their first regular-season match against the Crusaders on February 21.

Unfortunately for the Bay of Plenty, no other Super 15 games will be held in the province next year.

The inclusion of Taranaki in the Chiefs franchise for 2014 has resulted in Tauranga losing its regular-season match at Baypark Stadium next year.

The Chiefs have not had a regular-season fixture in Rotorua since March 2008, when they defeated the Bulls 43-27.

If the Chiefs defend their title next year they will become only the second team to win three Super Rugby titles in a row, after the Crusaders in 1998-2000.

The Blues play their first match of the regular season against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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