I was just average: Benji Marshall will return to the NRL after a fruitless stint with the Blues in Super Rugby. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Benji Marshall has no regrets about his move to rugby union and believes he will be better for the experience when he returns to the NRL this season.
Marshall, who received just 212 minutes of game time in eight Super Rugby matches for the Auckland Blues, insists frustration at the lack of opportunity was not the reason for his decision to seek a release and described himself as "just an average rugby player".
In an interview with Fairfax Media on Monday, a relaxed Marshall spoke honestly about why his switch to union "just didn't work out" as he and Blues coach John Kirwan had hoped.
"My lack of the technical aspects of rugby union was what was letting me down and I felt like I was playing rugby league on a rugby field with 14 other rugby players," Marshall said.
"But I definitely don't regret it because I have got everything I wanted to get out of it except the performance on the field, which just hasn't worked out the way I wanted it to and I am just an average rugby player. I got a fresh start back in New Zealand, got fit, got the motivation, got the hunger and I feel real good and feel fresh."
However, the 29-year-old said he had learnt a lot in the eight months since he left Wests Tigers and was keen to bring that knowledge to the NRL again after instructing his manager Martin Tauber to open talks about joining a new club once his release is approved by the New Zealand Rugby Union.
"The thing that coming here has made me realise is that I got comfortable and probably took it for granted a bit [at the Tigers]," Marshall said.
"When I came here I had to work so hard for it and I was in a position I hadn't been in before, and it has given me that motivation back to be the best.
"I had a crack at it and it just didn't work out but honestly I haven't been this happy for a long time and I feel like I am a better person for being here. It has helped me having to put myself out there a bit more and get to understand the younger guys."
The rule changes introduced in the NRL this season to speed up the game are likely to suit Marshall, who became disillusioned and decided to change codes after a dispute over a new five-year contract he believed the Tigers had agreed to.
Cronulla, St George Illawarra, Parramatta, South Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are all likely to interested in a star playmaker of Marshall's calibre and experience.
But after shifting between fullback and five-eighth in his limited appearances for the Blues, Marshall said he could play a number of positions in the NRL.
"I think I could play halfback, five-eighth or fullback," said Marshall, who has watched "every game" of NRL this season and described the standard of football as "awesome".
"I have learnt some new skills while I have been here. I feel fit and I feel good so I am ready for the next part. It might take a few weeks to get a feel for it again but in my head I understand the game properly which is probably the most important thing."
After playing the final 42 minutes at five-eighth in the Blues' loss to the Hurricanes on Friday night, Marshall had a meeting with Kirwan on the weekend in which it was suggested he either play the rest of the season in the lower tiers to help prepare him for the 2015 Super Rugby competition or return to rugby league.
"My options were to either go back and play club rugby for the rest of the year and develop that way, then play in the ITM Cup and come back after having that experience and knowledge to try and make it again next year," Marshall said. "The other option was to go back to what I already know the best.
"The decision was not about being frustrated about game time, I love it here. I have probably got a couple of years left in me realistically and I want those to be enjoyable and competitive and at the higest level. I don't really want to go back to club level and have to start again in rugby."