Here’s a look at the Hunua Group for this weekend’s NRL Auckland Nines to take place at Eden Park.

Teams

Canberra Raiders, North Queensland Cowboys, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters

Squads

Raiders: Zac Santo, Eddie Aiono, Thomas Cronan, Brent Naden, Nick Cotric, Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer, Dunamis Lui, Adam Clydsdale, Jeff Lima, Luke Bateman, Scott Sorensen, Jordan Turner, Paul Roache, Mark McCormack, Anthony Moraitis, Makahesi Makatoa, Topi Tafua

The excitement machine of the NRL in 2016 should be exploding at this year’s Nines. I think Ricky Stuart may be a bit conservative considering the injuries both Blake Austin and Aiden Sezer suffered, but the likes of Jordan Rapana, Jarrod Croker and Joseph Leila should replicate their form in the Nines format.

Cowboys: John Asiata, Javid Bowen, Gavin Cooper (c), Kyle Feldt, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Jake Granville, Ben Hampton, Coen Hess, Shaun Hudson, Corey Jensen, Kane Linnett, Ethan Lowe, Michael Morgan, Justin O’Neill, Kalyn Ponga, Jason Taumalolo, Johnathan Thurston, Shane Wright

With Jonathan Thurston confirmed to be playing, it’s hard not to see the Cowboys do well. I’m sure they’ll try to conserve him for the season proper but with blokes like Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo and Kalyn Ponga running around, they’ll be looking to take out their second Nines title.

South Sydney Rabbitohs:

After a disappointing 2016 the Rabbitohs will be looking to bounce back into form and what better way than with the preseason tournament? They have plenty of exciting young outside backs including Tyrell Fuimaono, Robert Jennings, Braidon Burns and Aaron Gray. Coupled with the experience of Adam Reynolds (now ruled out of the tournament) and the strike power of Damien Cook and Cody Walker, the Bunnies will be out to entertain and compete.

Sydney Roosters: Connor Watson, Daniel Tupou, Dale Copley, Latrell Mitchell, Joseph Manu, Paul Momirovski, Mitchell Cornish, Isaac Liu, Paul Carter, Kane Evans, Ryan Matterson, Mitchell Aubusson (c), Aidan Guerra, Chris Smith, Zane Tetevano, Brendan Frei, Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, Bernard Lewis

Similarly to the Bunnies, Sydney Roosters will be looking to make amends for their poor season in Auckland this weekend. They have a host of big mobile players that suit the Nines format, such as Daniel Tupou, Dale Copley and Latrell Mitchell. The key for them will be discipline, which they struggled a lot with in 2016, and with fewer opportunities with the ball in hand, they’ll need to be sure to hold on to the pill if they want to pile on the points.

Who Will Advance?

Cowboys and Raiders

2017 Downer Auckland Nines squads

We will have the official Downer Auckland Nines teams as they come to hand. Manly were the first team to announce their full squad which will be led by Brenton Lawrence and feature recently acquired Akuila Uate. PIHA GROUP MANLY SEA EAGLES: Brenton Lawrence (c), Jono Wright, Dylan Walker, Brian Kelly, Akuila Uate, …