Need a one-stop-shop for the Auckland Nines? Look no further because we have it right here. All the game-times, all the teams and all the analysis is right here, so you can sit back and watch your Rabbitohs make their tilt for the inaugural Dick Smith Auckland Nines trophy.

The Nines is set to provide some of the most exciting football you will ever get to see, with two teams comprising nine players on the pitch playing in two equal halves of nine minutes. A half time period of two minutes will break matches up before the action picks up again.

Each Club must nominate a team comprising of 15 players for each match with a total of six Interchange players allowed to be used on an unlimited interchange basis (including extra time).

 

Notable rule changes include:

 

-        Introduction of the Bonus Zone – a five point try for tries scored in the in-goal area between the goal posts at each end. All tries scored outside the bonus zone will remain four pointers

-        Introduction of 'GoldenTry' – where if teams are drawn at fulltime – in extra time the first team to score a try wins – with the 'Golden try'

-        Goal-kicks will not feature in the tournament with dropkicks taken in line from where the try was scored worth two points. Penalty dropkicks will be worth two points with a field goal in general play remaining at one point.

-        Scrums will consist of five players from each team and will only be used in the event of a double knock-on or a mutual infringement. 

-        In the event of a successful 40/20 kick, play will recommence with a tap re-start to the kicking team 20 metres in from where the ball crossed the touch line.

-        Matches will be re-started by the scoring team through a drop kick off

-        Referees will have the power to send players to the sin-bin for five minutes for foul play.

 

 

Pool Draw

 
       

POOL YELLOW

POOL GREEN

POOL BLUE

POOL RED

Team 1

Team 1

Team 1

Team 1

Warriors

Roosters

Sharks

Storm

Team 2

Team 2

Team 2

Team 2

Raiders

Eels

Knights

Panthers

Team 3

Team 3

Team 3

Team 3

Sea Eagles

Broncos

Tigers

Rabbitohs

Team 4

Team 4

Team 4

Team 4

Cowboys

Bulldogs

Titans

Dragons

 

Finals Draw

Game 25

1:30 PM

1st Quarter Final

 

1st Pool Blue

2nd Pool Green

 

Game 26

1:55 PM

2nd Quarter Final

 

1st Pool Green

2nd Pool Blue

 

Game 27

2:20 PM

3rd Quarter Final

 

1st Pool Yellow

2nd Pool Red

 

Game 28

2:45 PM

4th Quarter Final

 

1st Pool Red

2nd Pool Yellow

 

Game 29

3:45 PM

1st Semi Final

 

Winner 1st QF v Winner 2nd QF

 

Game 30

4:10 PM

2nd Semi Final

 

Winner 3rd QF v Winner 4th QF

 

Game 31

5:30 PM

Final

 

Winner 1st SF v Winner 2nd SF

 

*Please note, all times are Australian Eastern Day Light Savings time and not local New Zealand time.

POOL RED

DAY ONE – Game 8 – Rabbitohs vs Dragons, 1.40pm AEDT

DAY ONE – Game 15 – Storm vs Rabbitohs, 5.00pm AEDT

DAY TWO – Game 24 – Panthers vs Rabbitohs, 1.00pm AEDT

 

South Sydney travelled to Auckland missing a number of big names including Burgesses, Inglis, Reynolds and Luke – among others. But those thinking that the Rabbitohs will be understrength may be in for a surprise.

In the place of ‘names’, is a side brimming with talent, size, speed and agility, and while experience may be lacking for some – such as Irae Simone and Alex Johnston – what they lack in experience they more than make up for with suitability to the concept of the Nines.

The young-guns will be helped along by a wealth of first grade experience in the form of Nathan Merritt, John Sutton, Chris McQueen, Captain Ben Te’o and new recruit Lote Tuqiri.

Danger-man: Chris McQueen

If speed and agility are the most important qualities in the search for the perfect Nines player, then Chris McQueen could well qualify.

Since making his first grade debut in 2009, McQueen has gone from being a speedy outside back with exceptional finishing qualities, to a representative back-rower who displays all the hallmarks of the most seasoned and talented forward.

In 2013, McQueen managed to score three tries, make 21 tackle breaks and average 25.5 tackles per match. His explosive running was a feature for the Rabbitohs, while his versatility made him an invaluable member of any team he pulls a jersey on for, be it for the Rabbitohs, or the Maroons.

With the size of a forward, the speed of a back, and the vision to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, McQueen could become the thorn in opposition sides very quickly at this tournament.

Danger-man: Lote Tuqiri

Fijians are famous for their exploits in Sevens Rugby, so it stands to reason that a Fijian with the size, speed and experience of Lote Tuqiri could prove a vital source of points and panache for the Rabbitohs in Rugby League’s own reduced format.

Tuqiri’s cross-code experience, coupled with amazing athleticism, lends itself to this tournament potentially making him the surprise-packet of the two-day affair.

Season 2013 saw the giant winger make only for appearances for the Tigers owing to injury. However, after such a prolonged stint on the sidelines, the Rabbitohs recruit will be looking to make an impact. With wider gaps thanks to the fewer players on the field, Tuqiri will be in his element as he returns kicks and looks for supporting players.

 

DAY ONE – Game 7 – Storm vs Panthers, 1.15pm AEDT

DAY ONE – Game 15 – Storm vs Rabbitohs, 5.00pm AEDT

DAY TWO – Game 24 – Storm vs Dragons, 12.35pm AEDT

 

The ‘Big Three’ may not be playing, but that won’t stop the Craig Bellamy coached Storm from attempting to reproduce their dominant ways in the reduced format of the game, come this weekend.

Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater would no doubt have made short-work of the Nines format with their intuitive understanding of each other and their amazing skill-set, but what the Melbourne club has put forward for the tournament could well live up to the Storm’s high standards anyway.

Led by Ryan Hoffman, the Storm are a formidable outfit brimming with speed and enthusiasm – in many ways personified by outside backs Mahe Fonua and Sisa Waqa. With speed to burn and possessing amazing athleticism, expect both players to play an integral – and entertaining – role for the Storm.

Up front, the likes of Kevin Proctor and Captain Hoffman will provide sensational go-forward with their strength and ability to find support play in traffic. Expect the Storm to shake the Red Pool in the same fashion that they do the Telstra Premiership.

Danger-man: Sisa Waqa

It will come as no surprise that another Fijian in the form of Sisa Waqa stands as one of the real danger-men in this competition. Waqa has been a revelatory acquisition for the Melbourne Storm and will be a devastating force again in 2014 both at the Nines, as well as in the Telstra Premiership.

In 22 appearances in 2013, the powerful winger nabbed a personal haul of 48 points while averaging 117.4 metres with the ball in hand. But it doesn’t stop there for Waqa, who also managed an impressive 52 tackle breaks and 13 line breaks during the year.

Pivotally however, Waqa possesses fantastic ability when it comes to setting up second phase play, the Storm winger managing 25 offloads last season.

Expect Waqa to provide not only vital go-forward from kick-returns, but to also be an elusive runner of the football that will create many opportunities during the course of the tournament.

 

DAY ONE – Game 7 – Storm vs Panthers, 1.15pm AEDT

DAY ONE – Game 16 – Panthers vs Dragons, 5.25pm AEDT

DAY TWO – Game 24 – Panthers vs Rabbitohs, 1.00pm AEDT

 

The return of Jamie Soward to Australia could be a massive blessing for the Panthers in 2014, and it certainly won’t hurt when it comes to the Nines tournament either.

At his best, Soward is a representative half/five-eighth of exceptional ability. Having played an integral role for the Dragons’ Premiership winning campaign of 2010, Soward has the ability to turn a team’s performance around and lead from the front.

Surrounding him are the likes of naturally gifted footballers and young-guns such as Josh Mansour and Tyrone Peachey.

But the Panthers are also blessed with the experience and athleticism of Kevin and Wes Naiqama, both of whom will play important roles during the Panther’s campaign in the Red Pool.

Danger-man: Josh Mansour

Josh Mansour’s performances at the Panthers have certainly warranted the accolades that have come to him as a result.

Mansour has cemented a spot in the Panthers’ top squad on the back of his amazing performances from the back. Indeed the fleet-footed winger/centre holds the title for the most average metres gained for the Panthers in season 2013 (142.5).

In his 14 appearances last season, Mansour managed four tries, eight line-breaks and a whopping 64 tackle-breaks. With the extra space to move in, Mansour won’t be making anywhere near that amount of tackle breaks, instead, he’ll be striding right through them.

 

DAY ONE – Game 8 – Rabbitohs vs Dragons, 1.40pm AEDT

DAY TWO – Game 16 – Panthers vs Dragons, 5.25pm AEDT

DAY TWO – Game 23 – Storm vs Dragons, 12.35pm AEDT

 

Considered by many to be the favourites of the Red Pool, St George Illawarra named a strong outfit to contest the inaugural Nines tournament.

With the likes of Josh Dugan, Brett Morris and Trent Merrin lining up for the red and white’s, it’s difficult to argue against the notion of the Dragons’ favouritism. Lead by Kangaroo international Brett Morris, the Dragons will be an imposing attacking force when they line up against the Rabbitohs, Storm and the Panthers.

Among the Dragons’ squad will be former Rabbitoh Dylan Farrell, who has now made a home at the Dragons. His demon-speed coupled with a vicious palm will be a feature for the Dragons as they go in search of Red Pool glory.

Danger-man: Josh Dugan

Dugan will undoubtedly be the Dragons’ x-factor. Almost tailor-made for the Nines, Dugan’s evasive and aggressive attack, coupled with his ‘ball on a string’-like capabilities make him the perfect candidate to set the Red Pool on fire.

Dugan only made 10 appearances for the Dragons in 2013 after crossing over from the Raiders, but he made every one of those matches count – gaining an impressive average of 175.8 metres with the ball in hand and scoring six tries and 11 goals for a total of 46 points.

If his 70 tackle-breaks, eight line-breaks and two try assists from 2013 are anything to go by, then expect Josh Dugan to be an important cog in the Dragons’ campaign.

 

POOL BLUE

DAY ONE – Game 1 – Sharks vs Knights, 10.35am

DAY ONE – Game 9 – Sharks vs Tigers, 2.20pm

DAY TWO – Game 17 – Sharks vs Titans, 10.am

 

Cronulla fans may have plenty to cheer about at the Nines tournament this year after the club named a side jam-packed with stars and potential game-breakers who will take to the format with style.

The presence of x-factor players Todd Carney and Nathan Gardner make the Sharks one of the most dangerous propositions of the tournament. Both possess attacking prowess and scintillating speed in spades – a trait that will no doubt have opposition defences clutching at thin air on many occasions. But the good news doesn’t end there.

Up-front, the Sharks will be aided by a double-punch, wrecking-ball front-row pairing of Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen. Despite being among the biggest of men, both are well-known for their agility and will adapt to the new form of the game with relative ease.

Expect big things from Cronulla.

Danger-man: Andrew Fifita

He’s big, he’s strong, and he’ll be looking to blow out the cobwebs before the season gets started. Andrew Fifita will be among Cronulla’s best at the Nines.

In 2013, the Kangaroo international averaged 145.8 metres per match and proved to be a significant handful when it came to bringing him down – breaking a massive 103 tackles for six line-breaks.

Like many of the danger-men in this series, a vital part of the arsenal of skills is the ability to offload, and Fifita is no different. Season 2013 saw the big man offload on 35 occasions, creating valuable second phase play for his side.

His defence will also be a feature for the men from the shire, with the prop averaging 33.8 tackles per match. Expect Fifita to be one busy forward at the Nines.

 

DAY ONE – Game 1 – Sharks vs Knights – 10.35am

DAY ONE – Game 10 – Knights vs Titans – 2.45pm

DAY TWO – Game 18 – Knights vs Tigers – 10.25am

 

Considered by some to be the favourites of the competition, the Knights will be another side who will certainly challenge for the Auckland Nines title.

The Novocastrians are an outfit blessed with a diverse skill-set, from Jarrod Mullen’s play-making ability, to the size and strength of Willie Mason, they’re a danger across the park.

But it’s in between those two extremes that will make the Knights a formidable outfit at this tournament. Men the likes of Dane Gagai and Akuila Uate will add much in the way of speed and finishing ability, while Jeremy Smith and Beau Scott add a level of size and aggression that will be difficult for other teams to subdue.

If the Knights get a roll-on, look out. With high quality players abounding, they could very well leave their opponents laying in the Eden Park dust.

Danger-man: Akuila Uate

Another Fijian. Uate will play an integral role for the Knights at this tournament, and could become as much a fan favourite in New Zealand as he has become in Newcastle.

The man known as ‘Aku’ seems to play his football in one gear – ‘hell-for-leather’. His speed and ability to bust through the best of defensive lines makes Uate a massive asset for the Knights and major draw-card for those wanting to watch some explosive football this weekend.

In 24 appearances for the Knights in 2013, Uate topped the Knights for average metres with 143 per match, while also topping the club for most tackle breaks with 88.

Add 11 line-breaks and 60 points, and you have a player who will no doubt be featuring heavily in Wayne Bennett’s plans.

 

DAY ONE – Game 2 – Tigers vs Titans, 11.am

DAY ONE – Game 9 – Sharks vs Tigers, 2.20pm

DAY TWO – Game 18 – Knights vs Tigers, 10.25am

 

Season 2013 is one that the Tigers will want to forget in a hurry, and what better way to do that than with a positive performance at the inaugural Nines tournament.

By their own admission, the Tigers feel a small affinity for the concept of the reduced format with the Club having won rugby league’s last incarnation – the World Sevens – in 2004. Returning favourite son, Pat Richards, was keen to point out the fact that the Tigers are in some ways the defending champions. Only time will tell.

Despite a forgettable 15th placing at the end of 2013, the Tigers are not to be under-estimated – the Club set to field a determined group of players hell-bent on atoning and building upon the misery of 2013.

No doubt the return of Richards – a former Super League Man of Steel – will bolster the Tigers’ campaign with his hard-running and notoriously massive boot. Young Curtis Sironen will lead the way as will Captain Robbie Farah.

Danger-man: Robbie Farah

Robbie Farah has led the Tigers through some tumultuous times in recent years, making him one of the game’s most respected skippers. But it’s not just his leadership that makes Farah the Tigers’ danger-man.

With an arsenal that includes everything from stinging defence and opportunistic attack, to pinpoint kicking and second-to-none support play, Farah is one of the game’s most complete footballers when he’s on song.

This could be the start of something big at Concord, and you can bet anything that Farah will be there to lead the charge.

 

DAY ONE – Game 2 – Tigers vs Titans, 11.00am

DAY ONE – Game 10 – Knights vs Titans, 2.45pm

DAY TWO – Game 17 – Sharks vs Titans, 10.00am

 

While Pool Blue bursts at the seams with talent on the back of the Sharks, Tigers and Knights, the Gold Coast Titans only add to that sentiment with their immensely talented team.

In much the same fashion as the Knights, the Titans are a well-balanced and diverse group of players, from the diminutive Albert Kelly, to the giant David Taylor. Again like the Knights, the strength of the Gold Coast line-up almost certainly lies with the players in between those two extremes.

Forwards Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison provide a wealth of experience and versatility with their utility value and representative quality.

They will be backed up further by the likes of talented speedster, William Zillman and veteran Luke Bailey.

Danger-man: Albert Kelly

He may be comparatively small, but Albert Kelly possesses the ability to turn the Nines competition inside-out with his vicious step and turn of pace.

With relatives the likes of Greg Inglis, Kelly is undoubtedly an athlete and a force to be reckoned with. His presence on a field with big gaps and even bigger – and comparatively slower – men, will suit the little playmaker.

Expect Kelly to pull down the proverbial pants of all of his opponents.

 

POOL GREEN

DAY ONE – Game 3 – Roosters vs Eels, 11.25am

DAY ONE – Game 11 – Roosters vs Broncos, 3.10pm

DAY TWO – Game 19 – Roosters vs Bulldogs 10.50am

 

Much has been made about the Roosters leading into this tournament – mostly questions. Will they field a competitive side? Is the focus on the Nines, or the following week’s World Club Challenge? But perhaps the most pertinent question; why select Brad Fittler?

In many ways, the latter has overshadowed the myriad of questions being posed about the Roosters’ Nines campaign, while many have begged the question of Freddy himself; ‘why make a return now after achieving so much? Why play with the legacy?’

It’s as good a question as any. Make no mistake, Fittler will be taking this competition seriously and could very well be the surprise packet of the tournament. Far from tarnishing his reputation, the very real danger – although unlikely – could be that he turns on a performance that will see some suggest that he could still handle the top-grade.

Danger-man: Brad Fittler

He led the Roosters and the Panthers to Grand Final victories, captained his state and his country, and is considered one of the modern game’s best players. But it’s been 10 years since the Roosters’ favourite son laced up a boot in anger.

Fittler retired from the game in 2004, with only cameo appearances in charity matches such as the Legends of Origin match for the Queensland floods standing as the only return.

One thing is certain though, should Fittler reproduce a shade of the form that sky-rocketed him to the top of the game throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, the experiment will have been a success.

 

DAY ONE – Game 3 – Roosters vs Eels, 11.25am

DAY ONE – Game 12 – Eels vs Bulldogs, 3.35pm

DAY TWO – Game 20 – Eels vs Broncos, 11.15am

 

Parramatta fans will want to forget the last two years ever happened, and in a hurry. The Eels have now secured back-to-back wooden-spoons, making the Auckland Nines competition the perfect platform for a Parramatta revival.

With a new coach in the form of Brad Arthur coupled with some talented acquisitions, Parramatta could be in a position to give their fans something to cheer about in Auckland.

Centre, Willie Tonga, will lead the side that includes FuiFui Moimoi, Corey Norman and USA Captain, Joseph Paulo.

Danger-man: Joseph Paulo

Joseph Paulo was the surprise package of last year’s Rugby League World Cup, leading the USA Tomahawks into a finals match against the might and experience of the Kangaroos.

Paulo is a playmaker of rare ability and will be an asset to Parramatta’s campaign both with his skill and with his leadership qualities. If nothing else, Paulo is a player of substance considering his being a consistent stand-out in well-beaten sides.

Season 2013 saw him equally notch up the most amount of games in the blue and gold of the Eels, while averaging almost 30 tackles a game.

 

DAY ONE – Game 4 – Broncos vs Bulldogs, 11.50am

DAY ONE – Game 11 – Roosters vs Broncos, 3.10pm

DAY TWO – Game 20 – Eels vs Broncos, 11.15am

 

No matter what situation the Broncos are put in, they will always amount to a threat. Consistently able to bring through quality players from their lower ranks, while also recruiting well, Brisbane are a powerhouse of the Telstra Premiership and could carve out a reputation as a powerhouse of the Nines too.

Having said that, the Broncos endured their worst season in the clubs history in 2013 by finishing 12th. But don’t let that fool you, the Broncos will be genuine contenders.

With a side that boasts Ben Barba, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett and Corey Parker, it’s hard to write off a club that has won six Premierships in their short but illustrious history.

Danger-man: Ben Barba

With the tug-of-war between the Broncos and the Bulldogs for the former Dally M Medallist’s services now in the past, the battle between the two clubs can begin on the field.

At his best, Barba can arguably be one of the best players in the game. Unfortunately for the former Bulldog, 2013 was not one of those years, with a range of issues catching up to the talented star and hampering his football.

But all that is now behind him, and with a new club, a new start and a medium with which to show off his rare talent (the Nines), Barba is set to shine again. Expect the plucky fullback to return to near career-best form as he looks to atone for a year that will forever have an asterisk marking it.

 

DAY ONE – Game 4 – Broncos vs Bulldogs, 11.50am

DAY ONE – Game 12 – Eels vs Bulldogs, 3.35pm

DAY TWO – Game 19 – Roosters vs Bulldogs, 10.50am

 

Canterbury-Bankstown round out Pool Green at this year’s tournament, and Des Hasler’s team selection is set to pack a punch in this pool, despite a distinct lack of the club’s bigger names.

Led by Michael Ennis, the Bulldogs are a well-balanced and talented bunch that possess sheer size and strength in Tony Willams, evasiveness in the form of Sam Perrett, and unpredictability across the park.

Expect fireworks when it comes to the clubs first up match against the Broncos, when they line-up against former favourite son, Ben Barba.

Danger-man: Michael Ennis

They don’t call him ‘Ennis the Menace’ for nothing. The Bulldogs captain is undoubtedly the king of rugby league sledging, but he backs it up with ability as a footballer that rivals some of the best.

Ennis will lead his team as both a Captain and a playmaker  come the weekend, with his experience and gravitas set to stand as an example to the younger members of his squad.

Look to Ennis to turn on the big plays when they matter most.

POOL YELLOW

DAY ONE – Game 5 – Warriors vs Raiders, 12.25pm

DAY ONE – Game 13 – Warriors vs Sea-Eagles, 4.10pm

DAY TWO – Game 21 – Warriors vs Cowboys, 11.45am

 

This weekend could be the most important one in the Warrior’s history as a club. Never before will the Kiwi side been thrust into such prominence as this weekend, with the Nines set to take place on home-soil, in front of what will undoubtedly be a supportive crowd.

Aided by having a firm home-ground advantage, the Warriors are one of the real favourites to take out the inaugural tournament – and not because of they are the home-team. The Warriors of 2014 boast a myriad of players that could be perfectly suited to the concept of the Nines, with size and speed characterising their players across the board.

Konrad Hurrell and Glen Fisiiahi stand as the ultimate examples. Both are blessed with amazing speed, and both are built like forwards, equating to two players who can inflict a significant amount of damage.

Riding a wave of passion from their home-crowd, the Warriors will be exceptionally tough to beat, as well as being one of the most entertaining teams to watch at this tournament.

Danger-man: Sam Tomkins

Fresh from the English Super League and a World Cup campaign for England, Sam Tomkins has been touted as one of the English game’s finest exports.

His performance at the 2013 World Cup had Warriors fans salivating at the thought of his pending arrival, and NRL fans in general worried about the ramifications for their club.

Expect Tomkins to fit right in and take to the Nines format with relative ease.

 

DAY ONE – Game 5 – Warriors vs Raiders, 12.25pm

DAY ONE – Game 14 – Raiders vs Cowboys, 4.35pm

DAY TWO – Game 22 – Raiders vs Sea-Eagles, 2.10pm

 

The Nation’s Capital has produced many a fine footballer and more fine coaches. Could it also produce the first Nines champions? Most would say no, but don’t be so sure.

The Raiders may seem mild-mannered and unsuspecting, but that’s exactly why they should be feared. Led by the experienced Jarrod Croker and bolstered by the size and aggression of Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, the Raiders of Canberra have enough strike power to surprise Pool Yellow and force their way into a finals appearance.

Danger-man: Reece Robinson

Since the departure of Josh Dugan, Reece Robinson has gone on to cement his place in the Raiders’ number one jersey.

A South Sydney junior, Robinson possesses a unique skill-set that lends itself to this tournament, including the requisite speed, agility and upper body strength so coveted by other players.

Give Robinson half a chance, and he’ll take full advantage of it.

 

DAY ONE – Game 6 – Sea-Eagles vs Cowboys, 12.50pm

DAY ONE – Game 13 – Warriors vs Sea-Eagles, 4.10pm

DAY TWO – Game 22 – Raiders vs Sea-Eagles, 2.10pm

 

Manly are an unknown-quantity when it comes to this tournament owing to the high volume of young players in their side. But don’t discard them just yet.

With the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Jorge Taufua and David Williams in the side, anything could happen when the Sea-Eagles take the field.

Cherry-Evans will no doubt be the key to Manly’s campaign, and he will be aided by other players the likes of Tom Symonds and Justin Horo – both of whom will be out to prove a point after bowing out of last year’s Grand Final against the Roosters.

Danger-man: Steve Menzies

Following the lead of the Roosters, Manly will have their own bit of nostalgia happening when Steve Menzies dons the Sea-Eagles jersey for the first time since leaving for the English Super League.

Menzies only recently hung up the boots though, making him a far more understandable selection than Brad Fittler for the Chooks. The man known as Beaver will no doubt be a solid acquisition for the Manly side, while also giving younger Manly fans the chance to see one of the club’s true legends take to the field again.

 

DAY ONE – Game 6 – Sea-Eagles vs Cowboys, 12.50pm

DAY ONE – Game 14 – Raiders vs Cowboys, 4.35pm

DAY TWO – Game 21 – Warriors vs Cowboys, 11.45am

 

The North Queensland Cowboys round out the 16 team tournament, and there’s plenty to like about the side.

Despite missing Test five-eighth Jonathan Thurston, the Cowboys will still have a streak of international quality about them with James Tamou and Tariq Sims taking the field in aid of the Cowboys’ campaign.

In addition, the skills of Robert Lui – while not those of the mercurial Thurston – will be a welcome addition to the side as they do battle in the Pool yellow.

Danger-man: James Tamou

A prop-forward of rare ability, James Tamou is one of the game’s premier front-rowers, and after a short representative career that includes NSW and Australian jersey’s, Tamou is perfectly placed to make an impact in the reduced format tournament.

The Cowboy amasses an impressive workload, having procured an average of 146.2 metres per match in 2013, while also averaging 23.5 tackles per match.

Look to him to set North Queensland’s campaign in motion.

 

Broadcast Details

This weekend’s exciting new Dick Smith NRL Nines will be broadcast live in Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Malaysia, Pacific Islands and Mongolia as well having live coverage available through livestream in all other territories.

NRL fans with supported mobile and tablet devices will also be able to stream every match live and on-the-go through the Official NRL 2014 App, with an in-app subscription.

In addition to the broadcast, more than 90,000 fans will attend the two-day nine-a-side knockout tournament featuring 256 players from all 16 NRL Clubs playing 31 matches in two days at Eden Park.

Host broadcasters FOX Sports and Sky Sports NZ will deliver live in high definition across both days.

The inaugural Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, with a prize pool of AUS $2.4 million ($370,000 for the winning team), will mark the culmination of a week-long celebration of Rugby League in New Zealand.

LIVE COVERAGE SCHEDULE

Territory

Australia/ New Zealand: Live and exclusive on FOX Sports/ Sky TV NZ

-Sat 15 Feb: Day 1, LIVE @ 10.00am EDT (i.e. 9am Brisbane ,10am Sydney, and 12pm NZ) on FOX Sports 1HD and FOX Sports 1

-Sun 16 Feb: Day 2, LIVE @9.30am EDT (i.e. 8.30am Brisbane ,9.30am Sydney, and 11.30am) on Fox Sports 1HD and FOX Sports 1

United Kingdom: Premier Sports

USA: FoxSports 2 and Fox Sports Go (Online)

Malaysia: Astro

Pacific Islands: Fiji TV

Mongolia: SANDAR HD

All other territories: Livestream