Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says he’s eager to watch the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines when it kicks off tomorrow, with an unpredictable style of football expected to emerge.
Arthur says his boys are all prepared to be surprised, and have to adjust to make the most of the space on the field.
“We had a bit of a practise run on Wednesday in terms of trialling a few things, and we chopped and changed a bit,” he said.
“But we’re not on until the third game so we’re going to watch the first two and see what works and what doesn’t.”
While the team hasn’t spent a long time training specifically for the Nines, instead focussing on the pre-season as a whole, Arthur says he’s still expecting to make a bit of an impact.
“We can’t wait, everyone’s excited; its a bit of a different brand of footy, and while we’ve been training for a long time in pre-season, we’ve only done one session on the Nines,” he said.
“I think Semi [Radradra], this type of footy will suit him, Pauli [Pauli], Bureta [Faraimo], John Folau, big powerful strong carriers of the footy - I think they might create a few opportunities.”
Much of the talk surrounding the Nines has been around the speedy players creating space, but Arthur says the big boys are equally important.
“You really need to play off the back of quick play-the-balls and try to get some one-on-ones, so while there may be a lot of space, I think you have to go into the middle a bit early and generate some play-the-balls and see what happens,” he said.
Undoubtedly many eyes will be on the comeback from retirement of Sydney Roosters star Brad Fittler, who the Eels will take on in their first match tomorrow.
“I think [Freddy] will be great with the footy, seeing him on the plane he still looks fit!” Arthur said.
“So you don’t lose that skill and ability that he’s got, you just have to see whether he can keep making those efforts in defence.”