Eels trio in Team of the Tournament
The four semi-finalists Parramatta, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and the Warriors supplied all nine members of the official Downer NRL Auckland Nines Team of the Tournament in 2016, with title-winning Eels captain Corey Norman being named Player of the Tournament.
1. Tom Trbojevic
The prodigious Manly fullback stepped up further and further the more his teammates fell around him. As Manly's injury toll mounted the northern beaches junior upped his involvement, running wicked lines and then showing ball-playing skills beyond his years as he shouldered additional responsibility once a concussion ruled his older brother and captain Jake was ruled out of the second day's play.
2. Corey Norman
What else can we say about the player of the tournament and captain of the team that won the tournament? Norman took to the increased responsibility of captaincy like a duck to water and was a constant threat in attack. He marshalled proceedings expertly, kicked like a veteran and offloaded like a pro, firing a few cutout passes for tries when the play permitted.
3. Bevan French
The highly rated youngster was a bit of an unknown outside the Eels system before the tournament began, but no longer. French racked up an incredible eight tries in five games, including six on the second day, as he bobbed up exactly when and where the opportunities presented themselves in Parramatta's run to the title.
4. Shaun Johnson
There was heartbreak for the home fans as a minor cork sidelined the home town hero during the final but his brilliance was on show for all to see earlier in the day in a scintillating solo try against Brisbane to book his side's passage to the final, as well as a virtuoso role in the team's quarter and semi final wins.
5. Tuimoala Lolohea
The emerging Warriors star was arguably his team's most consistent threat across the weekend, having a hand in plenty of tries and troubling every side with his running and passing game. The prototype Nines player, Lolohea added yet more proof he has a huge future in both the nine- and 13-man games.
6. Agnatius Paasi
The Titans mans-mountain was one of the real surprise packets of the tournament, showing plenty of endurance in addition to his considerable size and speed and he tore up opponents both through the middle and out wide. He found the tryline three times and his size also belied considerable skill as the prop showed he has a kicking and passing game to go with his destructive running.
7. Tohu Harris
The big back-rower was a key man in the unheralded Storm's run to the semi finals, putting in a durable effort tackling his heart out in the middle of the field and giving wide defenders nightmares hitting lines on the outside.
8. Chris McQueen
The Queensland back-rower was another star in the Titans' unexpected run to the semi finals. The former outside back showed off every string to his bow in racking up three line breaks as he ran brilliant wide lines and even slotted in on the wing when he wasn't busy darting up the middle of the field.
9. Semi Radradra
The most eye-catching player of last year's tournament took a couple of games to warm to his task this year but once he did he proved near unstoppable again. The big Semi trailer racked up six tries over the weekend – second only to teammate French – and refused to stay anywhere near his wing, bobbing up in the middle of the field and on both flanks as he took every hit-up available to him – much to every opponents' detriment.