The Parramatta Eels have arrived in Auckland, New Zealand ahead of the 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines and after hopping off the plane, went straight to visit the Manuwera Marlins Rugby League Football & Sports Club, signing plenty of autographs, taking pictures with the fans and assisting in some skills and drills with the hundreds or participants in attendance

For Blue & Gold forward Kenny Edwards, it was an enjoyable experience being able to return to one of his junior clubs and give back to the New Zealand rugby league community.

“It is always good coming home. I haven’t been home in a while, it’s been a couple of years! It is always good to get back here, out with these local clubs, it’s awesome.” Edwards said.

“I played here for a couple of years, at the Manuwera Marlins when I was younger, and they seem to have a couple of buses from up the road, my home town Pukekohe, so it was good to see all the fans and the juniors running around here.”

“It’s awesome to come to these junior clubs over here and see the kids, I remember being one of these kids and I love it seeing them.”

See photos from the Eels community visit

With the Eels set to take part in the Auckland Nines this weekend, Edwards said he and the rest of the Blue & Gold are eager to get back out onto the playing field, after slogging it out over the last four months.

“I didn’t get to come to the Nines last year, but obviously the boys won and got up and I was a bit jealous I couldn’t be a part of it,” Edwards said.

“We have brought a fairly strong side over so hopefully we can go deep into the tournament again this year.”

“As everyone knows, we slog away for four months so it’s good to get back on the field. The Nines is an awesome tournament and a great concept. “

With the Eels having a strong track record in Auckland, with try-scoring machines Bevan French and Semi Radradra lighting up the field over the last few years, Edwards gave his thoughts on who would be the leading try scorer for the Blue & Gold this time around, taking aim at one of the Eels new recruits!

“It’s a tough one, obviously Bevan got it last year, Semi had it a couple of years before him. So it will be tough, and I think those two will come close, but I think ‘Piggy’ has put his hand up too and he thinks he will score a few tries!” Edwards said.

“Piggy Riddell aka Nathan Brown can hopefully get over the line and score a few!”

The 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines kicks off on Saturday 4 February. Click here to see the Eels draw and timings of their matches.