Here’s a look at the Rangitoto group for the upcoming Auckland Nines tournament at Eden Park.
Brisbane Broncos, Melbourne Storm, Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers.
Brisbane Broncos: Alex Barr, Adam Blair, Darius Boyd, Gerome Burns, Mitch Cronin, Matt Gillett, Jordan Kahu, Sam Lavea, Matiu Love-Henry, Benji Marshall, Andrew McCullough, Anthony Milford, Francis Molo, Corey Oates, Jonus Pearson, James Roberts, Gehamat Shibasaki, Jaydn Su’a
The Broncos have named one of the strongest squads going to the Nines. Stars like Anthony Milford, James Roberts and Corey Oates headline what should be a class act. Brisbane fans will be excited to see how new recruit Benji Marshall does, in a format that suits his style of play.
Melbourne Storm: Young Tonumaipea, Josh Addo-Carr, Curtis Scott, Cheyse Blair, Linc Port, Cameron Munster, Brodie Croft, Mark Nicholls, Slade Griffin, Tim Glasby, Joe Stimson, FeliseKaufusi, Kenny Bromwich, Scott Drinkwater, Ryley Jacks, Jake Turpin, Dean Britt, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Charlie Galo
The Storm have named a fairly conservative side, with Cameron Munster the only real big name making the trip. Kenny Bromwich and Young Tonumaipea will co captain the side, while speed machine Josh Addo-Carr will have eyes on him throughout the tournament.
Newcastle Knights: Peter Mata’utia, Ken Sio, Brendan Elliot, Nathan Ross, Cory Denniss, Brock Lamb, Jaelen Feeney, Daniel Saifiti, Danny Levi, Jacob Saifiti, Mitch Barnett, Jamie Buhrer (c), Luke Yates, Tyler Randell, Jack Stockwell, Sam Stone, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Nick Meaney, Sione Mata’utia (Emergency Player)
A host of big names have missed out for the Knights but their squad is still strong with exciting players such as Nathan Ross and new signings Ken Sio and Jamie Buhrer being selected. Buhrer will captain the Newcastle based side, while fans will be looking at the form of Brock Lamb, who is best suited to fill the 6 jumper come the start of the NRL season.
Wests Tigers: Josh Aloiai, Luke Brooks, Michael Chee Kam, Joel Edwards, Matt Eisenhuth, JJ Felise, Watson Heleta, Justin Hunt, Jack Littlejohn, Kyle Lovett, Esan Marsters, Matt McIlwrick, Kevin Naiqama, Jordan Rankin, Ava Seumanufagai, Bayley Sironen, Sauaso Sue, Elijah Taylor
The Nines is a format that the Tigers would have once relished to play in, but the Jason Taylor era has brought a more sensible style of football to the club, which is shown in the forward heavy pack selected for the tournament. Elijah Taylor captains that squad, while Luke Brooks will be looking to gain confidence out of the weekend.
Who Will Advance?
The only obvious prediction at this stage is the Broncos. Their star studded team should easily get to the finals. The Tigers also have an experienced looking side, and with some exciting young backs, should do enough to go through.