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Marshall returns to grass roots rugby

Thursday 11 Apr 2013 6:48p.m.

Marshall returns to grass roots rugby

All Black legend Justin Marshall is making a return to grass roots rugby.

He's signed up for the Wakatipu team this season and his fellow Queenstown players couldn't be happier.

Marshall, 39, says he initially agreed to lend a hand with coaching the team, but now that has transpired into a playing role.

The highest capped scrum half in All Black history will play his first game with the team against Maniototo in three weeks, a team which features current All Black Andrew Hoare, and says he's relishing the experience.

Marshal says joining the team is a way to keep him fit as he approaches 40.

"This is something that's going to help me to do that. It's just the fact whether these bones can take the knocks anymore is the thing "m concerned about," he jokes.

Marshall will play halfback where and when his busy Super Rugby schedule allows.

"This is where I started and I actually really enjoyed getting back into it - going into the club house for a beer afterwards, talking with the guys about the game."

"Yeah whether it will ever leave my system I'm not sure, but my body will leave me behind before it leaves my mind I'm sure of it," he says.

So what about his fitness in his first few training runs?

"I could hardly speak."

"I go 'yeah, just give me a minute boys'. I had to go get a water,'" he says.

Even more lost for words is the team's 20-year-old Argentinian centre Francisco Carlos, who is in awe playing alongside the rugby star.

"After the training I ring my team in Argentina and they couldn't believe it," he says.

Coach Damian Petre says the team is awestruck at having Marshall in the team.

"The great thing is, whenever he's here, the intensity of training just goes through the roof. So it's a huge asset to have him there. They're not ribbing him yet, but I'm sure as time goes on, they will be," he says.

Realistically Marshall expects to play a handful of games for the Queenstown team as he juggles his super rugby commentating commitments.

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