Newcastle Knights' Director of Football, Michael Hagan has reflected on the Club's Auckland Nines campaign and the positives gained from the two-day competition.
“I think overall we are really happy with the couple of days of footy that were played,” Hagan told Knights TV on Monday when the squad returned to Newcastle.
For the premiership winning former Knights coach, a benefit of the tournament was to allow the Club’s emerging players a chance to gain experience and the opportunity to excel.
“There were a number of young players that stood up and I know that Rick (Stone) was really happy with the experience that they got,” he said.
“Most notably was Jake Mamo who came up with four tries but also had to push through a bit of pain with a cork."
Meanwhile, he believed Nines captain Jarrod Mullen shone in his second year playing at the tournament.
“He controlled the games really well, certainly in the first day. I think he’ll take a lot of confidence out of here, along with Tyrone Roberts,” he said.
“Overall there were plenty of encouraging things from a few of our young guys.”
The Knights won two of their pool games against the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Manly Sea Eagles before being knocked out of the competition in the quarter-final match by the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“The last game was a bit disappointing; we sort of got blown away a bit by Souths who went on to win it,” he said.
“They had a huge amount of possession in that game."
Despite being eliminated, Hagan said he was pleased with the team’s effort and energy.
“I don’t think anyone disappointed Rick and the coaching staff. They all did their job pretty well," he said.
“We were pretty confident with the group that we took.
“I think it’s a really good way to kick the season off and I think most clubs prepared and approached it in the right way.
"It’s competitive but think there’s a bit of banter among the teams and their fans.
“Overall I think it’s a great event."
A major positive from the high intensity, two-day tournament for Hagan is the fact the squad returned relatively unscathed by injury.
Carlos Tuimavave is set to undergo scans and Sione Mata’utia will be monitored during the week.
“It’s hopefully only precautionary and they will both be fine for Round 1,” he said.
The Knights have a weekend break before taking part in a trial match in Wauchope on Saturday February 14.