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2016 Auckland Nines – Rangitoto Group preview

The 2016 Dick Smith Electronic Auckland Nines draw was announced earlier this week.  South Sydney are the defending champions for the tournament.

We have a look at what the Rangitoto Group draw means for each club at the event that will take place at Eden Park on 6-7 February 2016.

POOL: Rangitoto

This could be the most unpredictable pool at the Nines tournament despite having current National Rugby League champions and inaugural tournament winners North Queensland Cowboys in the group.

Newcastle Knights
2014 record: 2 wins, 2 losses (quarter-finalists)
2015 record: 2 wins, 2 losses (quarter-finalists)
Odds: $15 (Sportsbet)

Quarter-finalists at the two previous events, could it be Newcastle’s year to advance into the final four?  A lot will depend on the fitness and availability of Jarrod Mullen.  Knights fans cringed when Mullen broke down in the inaugural tournament and were relieved he got through 2015 Nines unscathed.  Some serious try scoring and speed out with in Jake Mamo, Dane Gagai and Nathan Ross.  A selection smokey for the tournament could be Krys Freeman, a hooker recruited from Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup.  He is the former son of New Zealand legend Gary.  It will be between the Knights and Panthers to who advances with the Cowboys.

North Queensland Cowboys
2014 record: 4 wins, 2 losses (winners)
2015 record: 2 wins, 2 losses (quarter-finalists)
Odds: $11 (Sportsbet)

The current National Rugby League champions will be the most favoured to advance to the quarters.  You would think the Cowboys will name a team similar to last year with Johnathan Thurston rested from the tournament, meaning either Michael Morgan or Gavin Cooper will skipper.  Morgan, Kyle Feldt and Justin O’Neill are the key players to scoring in attack but it may come down to defence, something that the Cowboys excelled on day two of the 2014 tournament in only conceding nineteen points in the three elimination matches.  If they advance to the second phase they could again go all the way.

Penrith Panthers
2014 record: 2 wins, 2 losses (quarter-finalists)
2015 record: 0 wins, 3 losses
Odds: $13 (Sportsbet)

Last year the Panthers were one of three sides to bow out of the tournament without a win.  They went in with a very inexperienced side which included retired club captain Kevin Kingston.  With Anthony Griffin at the helm there may be a change in attitude with the likes of Matt Moylan and Tyrone Peachey being selected.  Don’t be surprised if Zach Dockar-Clay, Ben Garcia from Catalans Dragons and Te Maire Martin are selected.  Martin coming with huge wraps from the Wests Tigers.  Plenty of pace out wide with the Jennings boys and Will Smith who starred for Penrith at the end of a disappointing 2015 National Rugby League campaign.  Their match with the Knights will determine their fate.

Wests Tigers
2014 record: 1 win, 2 losses
2015 record: 2 wins, 2 losses (quarter-finalists)
Odds: $15 (Sportsbet)

Coach Jason Taylor will be relieved that the off-season dramas are at an end with the start of this tournament.  They managed to make last year’s quarter-finals before being belted by Sydney Roosters.  Their side potentially will look a lot different from last year’s squad with so many new signings to be tested.  That includes the likes of Michael Chee-Kam, Justin Hunt and Jordan Rankin after spending time in Super League.  One player who could be worth watching is Billy McConnachie.  He was outstanding in the Intrust Super Cup finals series and is a honest hard working player.  Would need some luck to make the quarters.

PREDICTION: North Queensland Cowboys, Penrith Panthers


Editor of nothingbutleague since site inception in 2013. Massive Penrith Panthers fan (Member 13120). Email:


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