NRL fans were treated to an exciting display of flair, speed and talent at the Auckland Nines last weekend.
Parramatta Eels fans rejoiced after witnessing their team defeat the New Zealand Warriors in the Grand Final, earning their first piece of silverware since the 1986 Premiership. In spite of many NRL stars not partaking in the tournament, there were a number of young speedsters who took advantage of the open format to show off their speed and versatility to the Rugby League world. Additionally, many first grade regulars showed what they’re capable of when finding themselves in open ground.
As expected, a huge highlight of the tournament was watching the fast-paced backs weaving their magic through open holes in the opposing defence. Bevan French (Eels) and Gideon Gela-Mosby (Cowboys) were two of the stand-out speedsters, showing exhilarating pace and scoring eight and four tries respectively. French became the tournament’s leading try scorer, narrowly beating his Fijian team mate Semi Radradra who scored an impressive six tries. While it’s unlikely that we’ll see most of these lightning fast talents playing in first grade this season, they’ve definitely given selectors good reason to consider them if injury strikes the current starters.
Rookie Stand-outs from the Nines:
- Bevan French (Eels) – French will unlikely play in first grade this season, although an injury to Michael Gordon could provide an opportunity for some first grade experience.
- Gideon Gela-Mosby (Cowboys) – Again, unlikely to get a first grade start. Paul Green has mentioned that while he needs to stay loyal to his premiership winning side, Mosby’s Nines performance won’t be ignored
- Josh Addo-Carr (Tigers) – Addo-Carr was recently signed by the Tigers after playing brilliantly in the Holden Cup for the Cronulla Sharks. Josh showcased his speed and flair while also scoring two tries at the Nines on the weekend. Josh is a great chance to fill the void left by Pat Richards on the wing.
- Latrell Mitchell (Roosters) – Expect to see Latrell make his first grade debut in the coming seasons. The Roosters rewarded the rising star with a long term deal in 2015. Mitchell showcased his relentless speed and strength at the Nines.
- Te Maire Martin (Panthers) – Martin showed plenty of potential at the Nines. He has signed with the Panthers until 2018, although injuries to Soward or Wallace may be the only chance Martin has to make a 2016 first grade appearance.
NRL Supercoach relevant Nines performances
The SuperCoach relevance of the Nines Tournament has always been under question. One can argue that the regular game of Rugby League relies on factors unseen in the eighteen minute variant, although watching a strong forward who shows speed and awareness definitely can’t be ignored. Agnatius Paasi is a great example of this. Paasi demonstrated why SuperCoaches need to consider him as a strong bench option by breaking the line, running great metres and even scoring three tries. Keep an eye on round 1 team lists and what role Agnatius will play in the coming trial matches as this may sway your opinion on whether he’ll appear in your SuperCoach team.
Bryce Cartwright also impressed on Day one at the Nines. His name was already a regular topic of conversation among Fantasy coaches, but seeing him continue his 2015 form at the Nines has only reaffirmed his SuperCoach relevance and importance.
Player of the tournament Corey Norman gave Fantasy coaches plenty to think about. Norman showed maturity and skill while leading his team to victory in impressive fashion. While Norman isn’t a common SuperCoach selection, some coaches may see this opportunity to use him as a POD (Point of Difference) selection as Parramatta has the best bye period coverage.
Who was your favourite player of the Nines?