Following a successful World Nines last October, the NRL Nines are back. The Sydney Roosters won the last Nines tournament in 2017, beating Penrith in the final.
The 2020 version moves from Auckland to Perth’s HBF Park on February 14th and 15th.
All sixteen NRL clubs will play the two-day event, sorted into four pools of two groups.
POOL 1 – Group A: Penrith, New Zealand Warriors; Group B: Sydney Roosters, Newcastle Knights.
POOL 2 – Group A: Canterbury-Bankstown, St. George-Illawarra; Group B: Parramatta, Cronulla-Sutherland.
POOL 3 – Group A: Canberra, Wests Tigers; Group B: Gold Coast, South Sydney.
POOL 4 – Group A: North Queensland, Melbourne; Group B: Brisbane, Manly-Warringah.
Every team plays two pool matches, playing teams in the opposite group, with the top two teams from each pool making the quarter finals.
The four NRL-W teams (Brisbane, St. George-Illawarra, New Zealand, Sydney Roosters) play their own tournament, with six round robin games and a final.
Between both tournaments, there’s 10 games on the Friday afternoon/evening, and 20 on the Saturday, including seven men’s finals games and the women’s final.
Former AFL player Nick Davis (Collingwood and Sydney) is playing for the Roosters (a familiar, marketable name for AFL-obsessed Western Australians), along with retired NRL players Michael Gordon (Gold Coast Titans), Andrew Ryan (Canterbury-Bankstown), Pat Richards (Wests Tigers), Kurt Gidley (Newcastle), and Corey Parker (Brisbane).
After last year’s sell-out Origin, a successful Nines tournament could help Western Australia’s bid to eventually enter the NRL.
BRISBANE: Wearing their home jersey, Brisbane score an F for originality. Surely they could’ve pulled out the retro Power’s/Traveland jersey, or use the harlequin design?
CANBERRA: The Raiders have used their junior rep jersey, with a lighter green and more artistic white, blue, gold, and while stripes on the shoulders. It’s quite nice.
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN: The Bulldogs have kept it simple, with a giant bulldog on a plain white jersey. It works.
CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND: While Nines jerseys can have a bit more freedom design-wise, this Sharks jersey – meant to look like an actual shark coming to eat the opposition, apparently – is a mess. It’s so bad it could give younger viewer nightmares.
GOLD COAST: Looking more like a tricky conveyor belt level from an old-school platformer, this mix of diagonal yellow and red arrows on a blue base is nearly as bad as Cronulla’s effort. Nearly.
MANLY-WARRINGAH: Manly’s solid maroon jersey is brilliant. Proof that keeping it simple works.
MELBOURNE: There’s simple, and then there’s the Storm’s effort, which looks more like a cheap t-shirt.
NEWCASTLE: Newcastle have reversed their classic “Henny Penny” jersey, with blue stripes on the chest and red sleeves and torso. Lovely.
NORTH QUEENSLAND: Cowboys fans will be happy with 2020 – and the season hasn’t even started. Not only do they have the brilliant 1995 heritage jerseys (home and away), but the Nines jersey – with pretty white stars on a dark blue base – is magnificent.
PARRAMATTA: The Eels – as with their new home jersey – have embraced the retro look, with a big blue V (with with trimming) on a yellow base. It’ll remind long-suffering Parra fans of better times.
PENRITH: The “Pink Panther” returns. While not exactly original, it’s a fan favourite, which is good enough.
SOUTH SYDNEY: Souths bring back the “Minties” jersey, with a green and red chest hoop, green and red sleeves, green collar, and a white base. This could be a fan favourite.
ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA: The Dragons’ jersey is nice, with a big black dragon on a red base.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS: While it looks like a variation of the traditional Eastern Suburbs tri-colours (with larger red and white chevrons on a blue base), the Roosters’ Nines strip is actually based on the Fremantle Roosters jersey, a nice nod to their Western Australian hosts.
NZ WARRIORS: Now this is pretty: the “Mayhem” jersey features a big cartoon warrior on a multicoloured base.
WESTS TIGERS: While they have a reputation for occasionally ugly jerseys, their Nines one is great, with contrasting yellow and black tigers on the chest and towards the bottom, with a white base and black sides.