Recently retired Club legend Danny Buderus takes us inside this weekend's NRL Auckland Nines with all the insights into how the Knights' will fare.
From who is set to star through to how the inaugural tournament will be won, Buderus has your ultimate preview to the pre-season event that has the entire league world talking.
SAW NINES COMING
I have actually loved the concept of a nines tournament for a while. I spoke about it back in 2008 actually, when I penned my book called ‘Talent Is Not Enough’.
I said at the time that the nines concept would be a great way to introduce the game into the emerging league countries.
I was talking more about an international stage, because after living in England I saw the effect of the Sevens and how it created so much interest in the game of rugby.
So if we can sort of jump on the back of that have our own rugby league nines, then that could be a good chance to take our game globally.
So I’m really glad we’ve now got the Auckland Nines and who knows where this concept could end up.
I’m really excited about the next 48 hours, because I know you are going to see some amazing athletes and hopefully the product is something we can take into Asia or globally and get some support and real talk about our game.
STARTING WELL VITAL
The Knights have got the honour of kicking the whole competition off.
I know every team will be watching the game against Cronulla on Saturday morning, because they’ll be thinking how are we going to play this event.
So our game against the Sharks will definitely be a bit of a guide.
If we can put in a good performance, that might be good enough to mentally give ourselves a bit of an edge.
The boys want to start well and I'm confident we can.
All the guys that have been picked for the nines are quick and have agility.
NEED FOR SPEED
We’ve got so many quick players. From Dane Gagai though to Aku Uate and Joseph Leilua, the Club has plenty of speed.
The nines will be a bit of an instinctive game, so I think Tyrone Roberts will go very well.
I think Tyrone is the most instinctive player at our Club. He has got all the skills.
It’s a really good line-up for the Knights though.
The boys are preparing for the season, but I know they want to play well at the nines.
You can’t have too much structure in nines, but you still need to understand how it should work.
So you don’t have to attack the space, because the space will come.
But you’ve still got to go forward and make metres up the middle before you pass wide to the quick players.
I also don’t think there will be as much room as a lot of people think.
I know there are only nine players on the field, but there won't be a heap of room and teams will have to work out a plan.
HALVES THE KEY
I have no doubt the nines will come down to the decision makers in the team.
They’ll need to play well, so they can get the ball out to these speedier guys.
Whether that’s through a kick or through a little play that they put on, a lot of pressure will come onto the halves.
At the end of the day, that’s how you’ll get these outside backs away and in open space.
IT IS A FINE LINE
The idea will be to do everything you can to keep the ball off the other team, so cheap turnovers and handling errors will prove costly.
But you also want to do the exciting plays.
So kicks that force players to contest the ball or the old 40/20 kick.
Teams will be trying to make 50/50 contests, so they can get the ball back and away from the other team.
That will be a challenge though in such a quick game.
Either way, it's going to an exciting weekend of footy and I can't wait.
The Newcastle Knights Auckland Nines jersey is available now online, CLICK HERE to purchase.