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February 14-15 Channel 054

The NRL Nines have a new home, as the pre-eminent tournament showcasing the NRL’s new wave of talent heads to Perth.

After a two-year hiatus, the NRL Nines are back, but far removed from where they were last played in
Auckland – 5343km to be exact.

We’re headed to Perth to kick off the rugby league pre-season on Sky Sport, with the West Australian capital to host the event for the first time. And it has quite a benchmark to reach after the solid success of the Auckland Nines.

At the final Auckland Nines, in 2017, the Roosters were surprising winners with a squad that included some young up-and-comers who have since developed into superstars. Latrell Mitchell and Joseph Manu featured in the final as the Roosters beat Penrith 10-8.

Unveiling new talent has proved to be one of the real highlights of the Nines, and that is sure to be the case again.

With the exception of 2017, the Warriors have always had a strong presence in Nines football, including making the final in 2016. But it remains to be seen who in the ranks can fill the boots of Shaun Johnson in this format. We witnessed his talents again for New Zealand at the World Cup Nines last October. Former Warrior and league great Greg Alexander tagged Johnson as the best Nines player in the world for that display.

The blueprint for Nines success appears to be in picking a squad with multiple playmakers, plenty of speed, and explosive forwards. Within the ranks of the Warriors that is certainly possible if Stephen Kearney is prepared to play his stars. Run out a team that includes the likes of Roger Tuivasa- Sheck, Kodi Nikorima, David Fusitua’a, Agnatius Paasi and Ken Maumalo, and the Warriors would give the tournament a real shake.

Maumalo is the one Warrior I really hope is on deck after his career-best 17-try NRL season in 2019. That try-scoring form continued at the World Cup Nines as he snared a record four tries in a game against the USA.

Big, strong, fast… there’s your makings of a headline act for the NRL Nines.

Bring it on!

By Andrew Voss - Skywatch, February 2020

Sky Sport 4 LIVE:

Day 1: Friday 14th – 8.30pm
Day 2: Saturday 15th – 3pm



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