Too many 'has-beens' in NRL Nines tournament
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The NRL Auckland Nines is the festival to rival Rugby Sevens, and the Eden Park tournament on February 15 has been touted as the stepping stone rugby league needs to become a truly international game.
With a five-year deal sewn up, the Eden Park tournament will kick off the NRL calendar every year until 2018.
A fast-paced, higher intensity version of rugby league, the NRL Nines will surely be a hit with fans and players.
The problem I have is that this tournament could quickly turn into a farce, due to retired players wanting more.
Brad "Freddie" Fittler is a prime example. I grew up watching Fittler play in the NRL for the Roosters, where he was one of the greatest players to ever don the tricolours. Before that he had established at Penrith his career as one of the greatest 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 today's game, right?
Sorry, Freddie, 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 lineup. 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 wannabes be the reason it fails.
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