Recently retired hooker Kevin Kingston and National Rugby League veteran Nathan Smith have been selected for the Penrith Panthers Nines team to head to Auckland for next weekend.
Ivan Cleary has named a relatively inexperienced side to take the tournament but there are some familiar faces among the squad. George Jennings will be hopeful that he can get through the tournament in one piece after a season ending injury. Reagan Campbell-Gillard showed promise in the inaugural event and is back for a second time.
Kieren Moss headlines the attacking out wide and will prove dangerous for Penrith’s pool opponents in South Sydney, North Queensland and Melbourne. Isaac John, Isaah Yeo, and Will Smith have the creativity to give the Panthers a chance of making the knockout stage.
Panther fans get to see South Sydney premiership hooker Apisai Koroisau play for the first time in the black and white. Koroisau could play a dynamic role at hooker and also fit in at five-eighth during the tournament. I predict he will be Panthers best at the Nines. Another off-season signing Tupou Sopoaga will also debut for the Panthers in Auckland.
PANTHERS TEAM: Brendan Attwood, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Christian Crichton, Adrian Davis, Joshua Jay, George Jennings, Isaac John, Kevin Kingston, Apisai Koroisau, Sika Manu, Kieren Moss, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Andy Saunders, Chris Smith, Nathan Smith, Will Smith, Tupou Sopoaga, Isaah Yeo.
Game 1: 31/1 – South Sydney 13:45 (local), 11:45 (Sydney), 10:45 (Brisbane)
Game 2: 31/1 – Melbourne 17:15 (local): 15:15 (Sydney), 14:15 (Brisbane)
Game 3: 1/2 – Cowboys 12:25 (local), 10:25 (Sydney), 9:25 (Brisbane)