A beaming Robbie Rochow is pleased to be making his third appearance at the annual Auckland Nines tournament held at Eden Park next weekend.
Rochow will take his place as one of the more experienced heads in the Knights' Nines squad that excitingly features a number of emerging players who are yet to make their NRL debut.
“It’s a great trip, I have done both years at the Nines,” he said.
“I’m really excited and think it’s going to be a good thing for a lot of our younger players to experience playing on a bigger stage.”
It’s the dynamic and fluid style of play at the tournament, which features nine players a side, nine-minute halves and unlimited interchange, that has the athletic second rower so eager to be a part of the concept again.
“You think fitness is going to play a big part, but you get on, sprint around for a few minutes then sprint straight off,” he said.
“It’s a good interchange system.”
While preparation for the tournament sits outside the normal pre-season schedule, he believes the unique format inspires a sense of fun and enthusiasm for players on the field.
“It’s a bit of a change from what we’ve been doing for the last four weeks,” he said.
“It’s so much fun, you get to enjoy your football and feels like you’re back playing in school days."
With the expertise of names like Sione Mata’utia, Jake Mamo and Nathan Ross, who all return to the tournament in 2016, Rochow believes the Knights will shape up as tough competitors.
“It’s such an unpredictable format of our game. If you complete well and show good shape either side, you’re a really good chance of scoring a lot of points,” he said.
“Anyone is a chance, I think we have enough good halves and speed here that we’ll compete.”