Former NRL stars Cliff Lyons, Jason Ferris and Jamie Feeney will come out of retirement to play in NSWRL’s Inaugural Friday Night 9s tonight (30 September).
The new alternative format of Rugby League will look to match the atmosphere of that of a carnival, with DJs, food trucks and onsite entertainment set to ignite Manly’s Millers Reserve.
It also gives Ferris, 40, who played more than 100 NRL games between 1996-2003 for the Raiders, Cowboys, Sharks, and Sea Eagles, the opportunity to play Rugby League alongside his son Nick for the first time.
The pair work together in the scaffolding industry and Nick recently won the Geoff Toovey Award as Man of the Match in the Cromer Kingfishers Under-19 Grand Final victory.
“Nick plays halfback and will probably control things,” Ferris said. “He’ll probably tell me where to go and I’m happy for him to do that; he’s got the young legs.
“I’ll probably drift around nine and play a bit of six. In nines, a lot of it is ad-lib football – you just can’t be too planned.”
Lyons, who last played in the NRL 17 years ago, will return to Rugby League after short stints in the local Manly competition, while Feeney returns for the first time since competing in the Illawarra division two years ago.
“Friday Night Football will hopefully bring some entertainment and excitement to the game and create a different atmosphere, similar to the Big Bash League,” said NSWRL Head of Football Barrie-Jon Mather.
“We’re hoping that families will come for a night out and take advantage of the carnival atmosphere, food trucks and sideline entertainment, as well as enjoying the 9s footy on display on the field.”
NSWRL has already introduced new Weight and Age competitions for all age groups as pilot programs earlier this month, as alternate fun, safe, family and time friendly options in addition to the traditional form of the game.