The yearly argument that you can’t take anything from the Nines, hold a little bit of truth, but in some ways is a fallacy. Sure, winning the Nines doesn’t mean you are going to win the Premiership (though the last two winners before the weekend, both won the last two premierships) but it doesn’t mean that there is NOTHING to take out of the Nines. Here are 9 things that I took away from this past weekend
Maguire hasn’t learnt his lesson from last year.
If Souths should have learnt anything from last year, it is that the league’s most stale attack needs something less structured to compete at the top level. With the exception of Cook, there wasn’t an ounce of creativity in the entire South’s team. 2 hit ups, one completely pedestrian play of passing it straight along the back line, then kick it. It is like they were trying to pick up where they left off with least year’s abysmal finish to the NRL season. I don’t care how good Sam Burgess is, he doesn’t solve this problem.
It doesn’t matter what type of squad you send over. The Cowboys sent basically their title winning side and lost to the no name side that the Tigers sent then didn’t make it out of the group stage. The Roosters played retired Braith Anasta major minutes and, if not for a last second in-goal mistake in the opening match of the tournament, they would have topped their group. I defy anyone to convince me that the Storm sent a player that is in their top 5 salaried players, yet there they were in the final four. In an 18 minute game, 2 mistakes sees you lose, so if this thing is going to continue, the teams just need to pick a side that suits the game and enjoy it.
Andrew Voss loves the little things about Rugby League. One of the game’s most divisive commentators enjoyed his time in the spotlight this weekend. He spent as much time talking about the game itself as he did talking about the things that don’t always get as much attention. He spoke a lot about the scarcity of scrums, and if it was a good or a bad thing. If there were 3 penalties in a game it was worthy of extra analysis. The All Time Nines Try Scoring Tally was of particular interest. He even bordered on obsession on day 1 when it came to conversions. But that is Vossy. You love him or you hate him.
Trent Barrett is cursed. In the last World Sevens tournament that was held, Barrett got injured and it was a big talking point at the time. I truly believe that it played a major part in the World Sevens being thrown in the recycling bin. So of course, in his first NRL coaching job for the Sea Eagles they copped a seemingly serious injury in every game that they played. I was unsure on his appointment, but given what he and this curse have done to Manly now, I think a lot of Rugby League fans are happy
The Warriors can be favorites every year, but it doesn’t get them any closer to the title. The New Zealand side is seemingly built for this type of footy every year. The tournament is held over the ditch every year. They are one of the most exciting teams to watch play Nines every year. They fail to go the distance every year. This NRL season is expected to be a big one for the Warriors, with the addition of some world class players in key positions, but while they continue to struggle with the pressure of a pre-season Nines tournament, it will take some convincing that they can give the NRL a shake.
The “Free Play” should NOT be introduced to the NRL. The rule is good fun, and ideal for this free flowing type of game, but in more instances than not, it just resulted in an error from the side trying to get the advantage and the play was brought back anyway. In the end all it really achieved was to take some time off the clock.
Knights’ Feeney will be the league’s next most hated man. To most people, Feeney is a rookie trying to make his mark. Those that have seen him play in the NSW Cup know that while immensely talented, he has a lot of niggle in his game, and can be a bit of a hot head. So it was only a mild surprise to me that in the Knights’ losing quarter final, a decision went against him and he casually tossed the ball at the referee. I didn’t find that at all out of character for him. He is the villain that the next generation is lacking. To top it all off, he is a Queenslander, so if he lives up to the hype, it could be great pantomime at Origin level
The Titans will surprise some Teams. The truth is that there really isn’t too much that can be taken from Nines form, but the Titans might just surprise some people this season. I would be very surprised if they were good enough to make the top 8, but I would be equally surprised if they did actually finish with the spoon too.
The Nines, in this format, is not long for this world. Too many people with too much power and influence have turned on the game for it to last much longer. The same thing happened with the last iteration of short form league, the World Sevens, and I think this will be gone at the first opportunity that the clubs are given to ditch it.
Tweet me with what you learned from the Nines @EdmondBurton