By Stephen Gallagher
The NRL Nines is the festival to rival Rugby Sevens, and come February 15th at full house inside Eden Park, this tournament could well be the stepping stone rugby league needs to make this sport a truly international game.
With a five year deal sewn up, Eden Park will kick off the NRL calendar every year until 2018, where hopefully it will be able to retain its contract and continue to see this Nines weekend in full swing.
A fast-paced, higher intensity version of rugby league, the NRL Nines is sure to kick off on the right foot for fans and players alike.
The only problem I have with the NRL Nines, is that this tournament can quickly turn in to a farce due to those retired players wanting more.
Brad ‘Freddy’ Fittler being the prime example. Now, don’t get me wrong – I grew up watching Fittler play in the NRL for the Roosters, where he was one of the greatest ever players to don the tri-colours, before that he graced the Chocolate Soldiers in Penrith where he established his career as one of the greatest ever players.
At the tender age of 42, Fittler has put his hand up to play NRL Nines, and with his contract being sent in to the NRL – this is more than likely going to happen. Great for Fittler, and great for fans to see one of the best players of yesteryear hit out in todays game, right?
Sorry Freddy, but in this day and age – I would like to see the fittest, fastest, youngest and most talented players star for their club throughout the two-day tournament.I understand not every single club will have their glamour lineups, but think about it – If you’re a young guy, playing in the Holden Cup, this could be your chance to showcase your talent and skills to break it in the big leagues.
I want to see success stories; I want to see the future of clubs being healthily represented woven between marquee players running out at Eden Park.
If Fittler gets a start, where will it end? Tawera Nikau playing for Melbourne? Mark Tookey running out for the Warriors?
Let the best of the best, and the young up and comers be the reason the NRL Nines is successful, and not has beens and wannabe’s be the reason it fails.
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