Jayson Bukuya, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Glen Fisiiahi, David Fusitua, Charlie Gubb, Konrad Hurrell, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata, Ngani Laumape, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sione Lousi, Suaia Matagi, Dominique Peyroux, Sam Tomkins, Carlos Tuimavave.
Jarrod Croker (C), Reece Robinson, Mitch Cornish, Bill Tupou, Matt McIlwrick, Joel Edwards, Glen Buttriss, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Jarrad Kennedy, Mark Nicholls, Jake Foster, Lagi Setu, Mitch Cronin, Luke Bateman, Jack Ahearn, Andrew Heffernan
Cheyse Blair, Jamie Buhrer, Michael Chee Kam, Daly Cherry-Evans, Clinton Gutherson, James Hasson, Peta Hiku, Justin Horo, Jack Littlejohn, Steve Menzies, Ligi Sao, Tony Santini, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Tom Symonds, Jorge Taufua, David Williams
Lachlan Coote, Zac Santo, Antonio Winterstein, Kane Linnett, Javid Bowen, Michael Morgan, Robert Lui, Jason Taumalolo, Ray Thompson, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Tariq Sims, Joel Riethmuller, Rory Kostjasyn, Kyle Feldt, Curtis Rona.
New Zealand Warriors are the favourites to win the inaugural Auckland 9’s and have named a strong line-up that includes Sam Tomkins, Konrad Hurrell and Glen Fisiiahi. You would expect that Shaun Johnson will be the guy who handles the ball most often for the Warriors and will go close to Player of the Tournament with his speed and ball skills.
Canberra’s line-up in this group looks the least experienced despite Jarrod Croker, Tom Lehroyd-Lahrs and Glen Buttriss’ inclusion. Reece Robinson has plenty of pace and should prove handy in the short format. The one to watch is Mitch Cornish who missed out on NRL selection late last season due to salary cap restrictions, will easily make the transition from Under 20’s to NRL in 2014.
Manly fans will be disappointed that Anthony Watmough won’t make the trip despite being promoted in the lead-up to the event. That disappointment will be short-lived with the Eagles ‘doing a Roosters’ in selecting Steve Menzies to play in the tournament, back after ending his career at French club Catalan Dragons. You would expect Manly to qualify for the quarter finals on the back of Daly Cherry-Evans with the likes of Cheyse Blair, Peta Hiku and Jorge Taufua outside him. Keep an eye on the talented Jesse Sene-Lefao who is looking for a breakthrough year at NRL level after showing promise playing for Penrith in Toyota Cup.
The biggest disappointment for the tournament is Johnathan Thurston’s omission from the Cowboys side. The Nines have been robbed of three great halves playing in the same group. Despite selecting Lachlan Coote, Antonio Winterstein and Kayne Linnett, there will be a heavy reliance of Michael Morgan to set up play and he’s just not in the same class at JT. This seems a too hard task. Ray Thompson could be the surprise packet out of dummy half. Matt might have exited for the UK, but the Cowboys have his nephew Javid Bowen, who will enter the spotlight at the tournament.
It’s hard to go past the Warriors making the quarter finals and I expect Manly will join them.