Matt Elliott wants larger squads for Nines

DAVID LONG
Last updated 10:01 19/02/2014
Matt Elliott
TOO TOUGH: Warriors coach Matt Elliott has called for there to be larger squads for the Auckland Nines.

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Warriors coach Matt Elliott has called for there to be larger squads for the Auckland Nines teams next year to reduce the risk of injuries and make it a better spectacle.

While Elliott thought it was an outstanding event at Eden Park last weekend, he felt that there was too much of a workload for the players in the 16-man squads and this resulted in tired teams in the big games.

''My one suggestion is that they need to allow teams to have bigger squads, so you can rest four players at a time,'' Elliott said.

''As soon as you do that you diminish the risk of injury straight away. But the organisers deserve a massive rap, if you've found something wrong you're searching hard, that's for sure.

''It was a fantastic event for rugby league and for the city, so I've got nothing but superlatives.''

However, Elliott believes by extending the size of each squad to 20 players would make a positive difference.

''It would be a better spectacle, because in the last few games they just looked completely knackered and it was so noticeable in our last game, there was just nothing there in a few of them,'' he said.

''So it would be better for the fans because you want the final to be the best game. You'd be a bit more strategic as a coach about who you'd leave out, but that would be my only recommendation.''

The Warriors were the only team two win all three of their pool games, but they came up short in the semifinals, losing 8-0 to the Cowboys and Elliott suggested perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to play his two biggest stars, Sam Tomkins and Shaun Johnson when they played the Cowboys earlier in the day in a pool game which held little relevance for the Warriors as they'd already all but qualified for the quarterfinals.

''If we were going to do things differently strategically, Shaun and Sam's average field time we didn't quite get right, in games where it didn't really matter having them out there,'' he said.

While it would have been nice for Warriors fans if their team had won the Nines, for Elliott Sunday's trial game against the Broncos in Dunedin has always been more important.

It is where he'll look to play his best players together for the first time this year and in a number of positions, it will play a big part in deciding who gets to play in the season opener against the Eels in Parramatta on March 9.

''It's a really important game for us,'' Elliott said.

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''It's a selection trial for a large number of our squad and it's our only real trial to get our systems in place.''

- Fairfax Media

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