Auckland Nine’s to Deliver Straight Ten’s For Entertainment
December 15, 2014
Forget the fumbling footy we’ll see in sloppy and slow pre-season trials, the best build up to the National Rugby League season is now the Auckland Nines. After an incredibly entertaining inaugural tournament at the start of the year a similar slice of rugby league heaven is expected across the ditch when the competition kicks off again on January 30. North Queensland was the first team to lift the trophy and will be out to secure successive triumphs but 15 other clubs will be keen to conquer all before them. With the Jersey’s recently unveiled now we wait to see which superstars will put their hand up for the fast paced, non stop, all action event.
Strips Scream Fantastic Fun
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but if you picked up a Nines novel that had a picture of the teams’ strips on the front you’d be eager to read on. The Raiders will rock a 60’s inspired fluoro green number, while the hosts’ shirt is also a colourful collector’s item. Meanwhile Manly have a surfer hanging 10 on their chest while you guessed it Canterbury have a Bulldog on their belly. The designs breed enthusiasm and excitement and if the players match the energy put into making the jerseys then we’re in for an amazing spectacle.
Female fans will be cheering on Melbourne and the West Tigers with both clubs opting for a singlet. The ‘sun’s out guns out’ approach have the women wanting Cooper Cronk to be a starter for the Storm, but there’s plenty of other beautiful beasts for the ladies to look at. Meanwhile the players will have nothing left to give when the titles start, with most now set to spend every waking hour in the gym to working on their arms.
Making Matches Move Even Quicker
NRL’s version of T20 will see 31 games in all with each match lasting just 18 minutes barring extra time. The bonus zone 5 point try remains from the inaugural competition, for players who touch down between the post; but it’s hoped new rules make matches even more entertaining . A 25 second Shot clock for conversions should ensure far less time is taken to set up a snap at goal and provide maximum playing time. An innovation in the interchange rule too, with the number of subs reduced from 6 to 5.
Can The Cowboys Claim Successive Titles?
The Cowboys were at long odds to hold the covered rainbow wave trophy aloft earlier this year after they lost their opening 2 games. But a big victory over Canberra saw them escape the pool stage despite losing more matches than they won. North Queensland came alive in sudden death, knocking off the Panthers, Warriors and then rivals Brisbane in the final to win the comp. Their run proved a poor start won’t ruin a team’s chances while it also showed just how crucial every point in every game can be. This time the Queenslanders are hopeful of having their freak five-eighth Johnathan Thurston in the line-up, which is simply scary for the rest of the sides.
Superstars Set To Shine
Many of the games superstars are expected to shine in January. New Zealander Shaun Johnson was in sensational form in the 4 Nations and with even less players on the field to stop him at the Nines the halfback will be hopping all over the place. Benji Marshall’s another classy Kiwi who’ll feel the love from fans. The 29 year old has put his hand up for St George Illawarra and can breathe fire into the Dragons attack with his fine footwork and flick passes. While Ben Barba is another game breaker that can run rings around opponents and Cronulla’s new recruit is likely to get a start in the pre-season competition.
If the first tournament is to be topped for entertainment then a ton of tries and plenty of points will need to be scored. Nearly 900 points were managed at more than 1.5 a minute. A statistic that says spectators are in for quite a show. So get ready for the ride and be careful not to blink because you might miss something.