Auckland Nines: Youngsters Shine in Pre-Season Taster
February 02, 2015
And just like that the NRL’s Nines is now a whole year away!!! South Sydney secured more silverware to add to their 2014 premiership and although the Rabbitohs remained the only unbeaten team; every side showed style and flare over the 2 day competition. The second edition of the tournament provided memorable moments from the opening match right up until the Bunnies grand final golden try in extra time to see off the Sharks. There were terrific team tries while impressive individual efforts also had the crowd on its feet. And while spectators saw some of the sport’s current superstars strut their stuff, fans were also introduced to potential poster boys of the game. So which young made men made us stand up and take notice and will we get to see them set the NRL alight this year?
Jet Boots Jake has more than just Speed
Newcastle flyer Jake Mamo lit up the tournament in its early stages. He showed scintillating speed to bag a first half brace in Newcastle’s opener against the Dragons before his fantastic footwork fooled Origin player Josh Dugan as he crossed once more. His Hat-trick was one of the hot topics on day one. Mamo made his NRL debut for the Novocastrians in round 7 last year in what was a wonderful 2014 for him. He was named in the NYC Team of the Year and was awarded man of the match for his performance for New South Wales in the Under 20s Origin. The 20 year old who was also chosen to represent the Junior Kangaroos will be hoping to cement a regular spot in the Knights NRL side.
Baby Beast Adored in Auckland
Move over Manu Vatuvei there’s another beast in town. Solomone Kata caused chaos for defenders in front of an adoring home crowd during the Nines. He bagged 4 tries in the competition and was selected in the team of the tournament. The 20 year old tasted Premiership success with the Warriors under 20 side last year and was the star of their grand final win. He scored a hat-trick in the decider and was named the player of the final. The Rugby Union convert will surely make his NRL debut in the early rounds of 2015 and will be one to watch out wide.
Bird Flies High for Cronulla
Jack Bird made line breaks and busted tackles throughout the Sharks run to the Nines Grand Final. He also scored 4 tries in the competition including one which sent the finale against the Bunnies to extra time. Bird was a standout in the under 20 comp last season but the Dragons skipper was snapped up by the Sharks on a 2 year deal. Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has already talked about Bird having an NRL role in 2015… he could well be a regular after his efforts in Auckland.
There were plenty of other young guns that showed glimpses of what they might do when the NRL season gets underway. Which emerging stars will shine brightest and what sort of impact could they have on the competition?