Day one of the Auckland 9’s is now in the books. It was a great day of football and Rugby League 9’s showed us that it can provide a great event for the game to showcase itself in.
So what are some of the key points we can take out of today?
1. The Day Is Probably A Little Too Long
I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt like the first days play went for about an hour longer than my attention span was willing to happy give to it. I watched every game and enjoyed it, but I think you’re always better off leaving fans wanting more.
2. Brad Fittler And Steve Menzies Played Really Well
It could have been embarrassing, but it wasn’t. Both Brad Fittler and Steve Menzies played really well. Neither player looked out of place at all. Watching Brad Fittler scoring a run away try was a great moment and will no doubt see more former players trying their hand at the Auckland 9’s in the future.
3. A New Career Path For Rugby League Players
I couldn’t help but think of players over the years who had good ability, but whose first grade careers ended fairly early because they didn’t quite have an all round game. Someone like Chris Walker could have had a really long career as a key player in Rugby League 9’s. This is a great chance for players to step down from first grade level but still have long Rugby League careers.
4. Injuries Will Happen And Clubs Will Have To Get Use To It
When players got injured in the old World 7’s, it felt a bit pointless. The Auckland 9’s don’t feel pointless. With the massive amount of prize money on the line, this competition feels like its worth the effort. Its worth the risk. You never want to see players injured, but these teams are battling it out for a real prize that is worth something. Players will get injured.
5. If You Have Two Vowels Used Twice In Your Last Name, You’re Good At Rugby League Nines
Basically, Polynesian players were dominant today! This type of game is made for Fijian and Tongan players in particular. I would love to see how a Fijian side went against an Australian side. I think Australia would have its hands full!
6. Sam Tomkins Is A Five-Eighth At NRL Level
I said last year that was more suited to five-eigth than fullback in the NRL and watching his performance in the Auckland 9’s really confirmed that. His foot work is very good and he has a nice little passing game that’s just exactly what you want from a five-eigth. It will be interesting to see how he goes this year. He will have much less room to work with in the NRL. Its a good start for him though.
7. A Rugby League Nines Circuit Would Work
Watching the days play, I couldn’t help but think of the future for Rugby League 9’s. Its good to watch. Its structured but there is enough room to be exciting. The length of the halves are perfect. Its just a really good product to sell.
8. Jamie Soward Still Runs Sideline To Sideline
As a Panthers fan I was interested to see how Soward played with more room to run. Watching him play sideline to sideline wasn’t what I wanted to see. The Panthers looked like they didn’t even train for the Auckland 9’s. It was a surprise because they named one of the “stronger” teams as far as first grade talent goes.
9. The Canterbury Bulldogs Season Is Over…Apparently…
The Bulldogs named an obviously weak side for the Auckland 9’s, and Des Hasler didn’t bother to even show up for it. When the Bulldogs didn’t play all that well some of their supporters went into meltdown! I don’t think the Auckland 9’s are any indication of how most teams will do. Bulldogs fans need to chill out. CHILL OUT!
10. The New Zealand Warriors Are Worthy Favorites
The Warriors looked like they have been playing Rugby League 9’s for years. They played amazing football. Their size, speed and footwork was brilliant and Johnson and Tomkins just played off the back of it all perfectly. They will be very hard to beat!
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