Benji Marshall's absence fine by Cheika

No Benji Marshall, no worries.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika says the prospect of Marshall being dropped entirely from the Blues squad ahead of the sides' clash at Eden Park on Friday would "suit us just fine".

"I've seen him have some positive interventions in games he's played, so if he's not playing this week I would definitely be happy because I still think he's a dangerous player," Cheika said.

According to reports in New Zealand, Marshall may be relegated to the Blues' development side after a disappointing start to his rugby experiment.

The decision rests on whether regular five-eighth Chris Noakes recovers from concussion. If he does, rookie Simon Hickey is likely to take Marshall's bench spot while the former NRL star plays fullback for the Blues' development side.

"Everyone wants to see a guy like [Marshall] come in and be a champion but at five-eighth you need patience," Cheika said.

"But he is an x-factor player, so if he is not in there then that suits us just fine. They have lots of x-factor players and the fewer you have to deal with the better."

The Waratahs have their own x-factor players to worry about, with playmaker Kurtley Beale a 50/50 chance of playing after aggravating an existing ankle injury during the Waratahs' 19-12 win against the Bulls on Saturday.

Cheika was optimistic but the shortened turnaround before Friday's match will make it tough for Beale, even with a few days off his feet.

The Blues are the first New Zealand side the Waratahs meet this season and kick off an important period in the fixture list, giving NSW an important opportunity to consolidate their season.

After a flourish of three- and four-try efforts in the first four rounds and an education at the hands of the Brumbies, Sharks and Force, the Waratahs learned to win tough against the Stormers and Bulls.

They believe their running style will better suit New Zealand sides, but acknowledge the Blues more open game plan is a double-edged sword.

"You're playing against a team that likes to play open footy as well and it should open up a lot of opportunities for us," Cheika said.

"But in the [Force game], when we played our style and made a few errors, the other team was able to capitalise on them."

The Waratahs threw five forward passes against the Bulls, conceded 16 turnovers and nine penalties. Against the Force they were penalised 12 times and conceded 22 turnovers.

The numbers are bound to be higher for a team playing as much rugby as the Waratahs, but there is no doubt New Zealand teams will punish those errors.

But Cheika said he believed the side's tougher encounters and less stunning displays in recent weeks were par for the course.

"A real area of improvement for us in the back half of the season is getting some better outcomes, to get to the next good thing and play positive," he said.

"If you're playing all your footy at the start of the season you are not going to be able to maintain it over the whole period.

"It hasn't been coming off for us in the last few weeks but we're still getting something out of it. You are going to have that over this competition, we just need to be better finishers."

The Blues pose a defensive challenge first and foremost. They are 11th in the competition but are the equal-third-highest try scorers alongside the Cheetahs and Brumbies.

"They try to get you into one-on-ones with players like [fullback Charles] Piutau and [winger Frank] Moala, who can make breaks," Cheika said.

"They try to spread you right out, so defensively we need to be disciplined and from there, when opportunities come, make sure we go hard and capitalise."

This story Benji Marshall's absence fine by Cheika first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.