Auckland Nines Preview

Auckland is once again set to host the 2015 NRL 9’s Pre-season competition. It is a 2 day event held on the 31st of January and 1st of February. All 16 National Rugby League teams will be represented over the two day event competing in a modified version of the sport.

Pacific Sports Management is going to have 26 players representing 12 of the 16 NRL teams for the competition.

Brenko Lee will be playing for the Canberra Raiders. Brenko made his NRL debut in 2014, playing 4 games and scoring 3 tries. 2015 will be Brenko’s first appearance in the Auckland 9’s competition. Expect to see him make an appearance at either centre or wing during the competition.

From the Cantebury Bulldogs, we will have Shaun Lane playing in the competition. Shaun is a 19 year old back rower who is enjoying a successful first full time pre-season with the senior squad. We look forward to seeing if Shaun can make an impact during the tournament.

Valentine Holmes, Pat Politoni and Todd Murphy are a part of the Cronulla Sharks squad. Valentine will be making his second appearance for the Sharks at the Nines Competition after making his debut in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2014. This will be Pat Politoni’s first appearance at the Nines Tournament. He signed for the Sharks in 2013 before finally making his debut in Round 17 of the 2014 season. Todd Murphy will also be making his 9’s debut and will be hoping for a strong hit-out to impress the coaching staff and push his case for a first grade debut during the 2015 season.

The Gold Coast Titans will have 3 Pacific Sports Management players on its roster for the 2015 Auckland 9’s. Returning from the 2014 squad is Kalifa Faifai Loa. Kalifa will be looking to build on a decent first season with the Titans by being able to cement a starting spot in the first grade team for the 2015 season. Along with Kalifa, Anthony Don will be returning to Auckland for the second time. Anthony has been a very good winger for the Titans since making his debut in 2013 having scored 16 times in 28 games, which equates to more than 1 try every 2 games which is an impressive try scoring rate. The final Titans player is Ryan James. Ryan is making his first appearance in the NRL Auckland 9’s after missing last year’s edition due to injury. Ryan will be looking to bounce back after a rough 2014 season in which his season was cut short by a season ending shoulder injury.

Daly Cherry-Evans is one of the high profile Rugby League athletes managed by Pacific Sports Management and he will be captaining the Manly Sea-Eagles. Manly’s first game against the Eels will be the first time Daly has captained the club. He will lead a strong side which includes 6 other Pacific Sports Management athletes. The other athletes are Blake Leary, Tom Symonds, Cheyse Blair, Brayden Wiliame, Mani Rudolph and Tony Satini.

Francis Tualau has been named as part of the Melbourne Storm squad for the competition. Francis has been a regular fixture for the Storm’s Holden Cup side for the last 2 seasons and is now looking to make the step up to the first grade side.

Newcastle named Nathan Ross to be a part of their squad. Nathan is a talented young back who will be competing with other youngsters such as Sione Mata’utia for a starting spot in the Knights first grade side.

The New Zealand Warriors’s Sebastine Ikahihifo and Chad Townsend have been named as part of the Warriors team for the Nines Tournament. Sebastine is 23 years old and plays in the second row. He has played 30 games for the Warriors since making his debut in 2012. Chad signed for the Warriors at the beginning of the 2014 season and partnered Shaun Johnson in the havles. After a solid season, Chad will be looking to build on that partnership with Johnson throughout the 2015 season.

The defending champion North Queensland Cowboys return to defend the title with a strong squad. Their forward pack will be led by 21 year olds. Jason Taumalolo is the youngest player to ever play for the Cowboys making his debut in 2010 as a 17 year old. After a break out season in 2014 which included playing 23 regular season games and making his debut for the New Zealand side which won the season ending Four Nations Tournament, Jason will be looking to continue his development into one of the best forwards in the game. The other forward is John Asiata. After following Paul Green to the Cowboys from the Roosters for the 2014 season, John made his first grade debut in round 12 of the season. Following a decent season, John will be looking for a strong pre-season to cement a spot for the first regular season game.

The Parramatta Eels will have 3 Pacific Sports Management players in its squad for the competition. Brad Takairangi has just signed from the Gold Coast Titans for the 2015 season and will be looking to impress Brad Arthur with some strong performances over the weekend. Kaysa Pritchard is a young hooker who made his first grade debut in 2014. He will look to add to his total of 6 games in 2015 but will face strong competition for his position, so a solid pre-season will be required to secure his spot. Ken Edwards is a back rower who will be making his first appearance in the Auckland 9’s competition.

The Penrith Panthers forward pack will also be led by a Pacific Sports Management athlete. Sika Manu is a veteran having played first grade football since 2007 and moved to the Panthers in 2013. He was one of the reasons behind the success of the Panthers 2014 season and will look to continue that impressive form during the 2015 season.

Finally, Shannon Wakeman is a 25 year old prop for the St George-Illawarra Dragons. After an impressive season for the Illawarra Cutters in the NSW Cup in 2014, Shannon was given a 1 year deal with the Dragons. He will be hoping to impress throughout the season including some strong performances at Eden Park to secure a longer term deal and deliver on the promise shown as a junior.

We wish all our athletes the best of luck for the tournament.