10 teams competing over two days of Nines footy! Get ready for big hits, long-range tries, bonus zone tries, thrills and spills. And only one team can be crowned the 2016 Team McMillan Nines Champions. We’ve run the rule over the ten teams competing…….
Players to Watch:Simon Gregory – a huge acquisition for the Chargers, Gregory is a genuine Queenland Cup standard player. Fit and ready to torment the oppostition defense.
Lloyd Stiegler - After tasting Intrust Super Cup footy with the Capras last year Stiegler is primed for a big season. Impressed last year particularly in defense and will be suited to the Nines style of footy.
Preview: As with most teams Norths fortnes will hinge on the make-up of their final line-up for the weekend. The Chargers were led by very experienced and skilled quartet Andrew Dale, John Clayton, Mitchell Smith and James Waterton. None of these four veterans will play in the Nines. That's a huge hit to the Chargers. Norths have gone with youth and key players like Kalem Barrett, Darcy Davey and Daniel Levi will connect with new recruits Zac Moss and Justin Thaw to lead the charge for Norths.
Our Tip: Norths Chargers is a club with high standards and anything less than a semi-final appearance will be considered a major disappointment. Serious gaps in experience will make it tough for Chargers to mount a charge for the title, but they do have some promising youngsters and astute recruits. Look for a semi-final appearance.
Coach: George Asse
Trial Form: 24-24 draw with Woorabinda Warriors
Players to Watch: George Jarrett - A mercurial talent, George Jarrett will largely sway the fortunes of this young team. A leader who could help the unfavoured Sharks shock some teams.
Kayan Davis - Very unlucky to miss out on the Capras Top-17 for their Round-1 match vs Mackay Cutters, Kayan Davis will be very keen to prove Capras Coach Kim Williams wrong. There may not be a player in the entire competition suited better to the Nines. Speed, skill and footy smarts.
The Preview: Fitzroy Sharks have had a quiet off-season but the whispers out of the camp are all positive. With Davis and Jarrett steering a group of young players including Cailin & Emilio Munns, Brandon Brown, Nathan Lawton and speed machine Justin Asse on paper they have a very exciting side.
Our Tip: Anything is possible if it clicks with this team. If they get through the Pool stage and into the finals opposition teams better look out! The sharkies could just go all the way!
LATE UPDATE - Kayan Davis is tipped to be a late withdrawal with a shoulder injury. Would be a huge loss.
Coach: Ryan Wilson
Trial Form: 20-16 win over Bundaberg Brothers & GF loss in Biloela Nines
Players to Watch:Chris Ross - a hooker who spent a pre-season with the Capras several years ago. Very quick on his feet and between the ears. Should steer the team around well.
Lance Kuveu - a Capras-drafted player straight from PNG. Kuveu will be looking to impress the Capras coaching staff after missing his spot in the Rd-1 team.
The Preview: Biloela Panthers are shaping up really well with Captain-Coach Ryan Wilson at the helm. Wilson, who spent two successful years at Gladstone Wallabys and is a former Burleigh Bears player will look to lead from the front. With the PNG bulldozer Lance Kuveu teaming up with Fijian giants Toby Virevu and Ratu Nailusu Biloela Panthers will easily get the title of Toughest Team to Tackle.
Our Tip: The real darkhorses of the competition. Out of the spotlight and having to contend with the extra travel other RRL teams don't have to the Panthers could be the surprise packets. Top-3 Pool finish gets them to the Knockout finals and who knows from there!
Rockhampton Brothers Blue
Coach: Damien Seibold
Trial Form: 24-10 win over Gladstone Brothers
Players to Watch:PJ Marsh - everyone knows what PJ Marsh did in an illustrious career that included Qld State of Origin appearances. Now 36-years of age and still fit as a fiddle can Marsh reproduce the magic to lead the Brothers side to the trophy?
Pat Matulino - brother of Warrior and NZ international Ben Matulino. Pat Matulino goes all day and may be Brothers most important new recruit for Season 2016.
The Preview: Rockhampton Brothers Blue have named a pretty formidable squad - no less than 8 of the 18 players named have played Queensland Cup (NRL in PJ Marsh's case). Players like Grant Rogers, Rhys Chapman, Todd Russell and Cooper Nobbs are all key components of the Rockhampton Brothers challenge for the title.
Our Tip: Rockhampton Brothers Blue are primed to make a run at the title - combine a strong roster laced with youth and experience and strong trial form and they will go in as one of the favourites. Expect them to challenge very strongly for the title. Grand-final appearance is well within reach.
Rockhampton Brothers White
Coach: Darrin Shadlow
Trial Form: Nil
Players to Watch: Kobe O'Brien,Lionel Williams and Brenton Whittaker
The Preview: Rockhampton Brothers White are largely an unknown quantity. Expect to see some possible cameo appearances from club legends from past including Gavin Duffy.
Our Tip: A side made up of a mixture of fringe a-grade players, reserve grade players and some recently retired players this is a side sure to have fun on and off the field but it would be a big surprise to see them make it through the Pool phase with a top-3 finish in their Pool required.
Coach: Mick Neilsen
Trial Form: 32-24 win over Norths Chargers
Players to Watch:Jerome Iakimo - 3-time Mackay Rugby League Player of the Year. Think Jason Taumolo, Iakimo is a player set to explode at the Nines.
Ashley Kriz - Rocky fans will remember Kriz from his stints with the Capras, Fitzroys and Norths in the past. An electrifying player with a great step.
The Preview: Great to have the Mackay Magpies making the trip from up north to challenge the rocky and gladstone teams. Many of the local teams will see this as a great opportunity to see how they match up against a team from the highly regarded Mackay Rugby League competition. Mackay Magpies are bringing a strong line-up and will be well coached by Mick Neilsen
Our Tip: Mackay Magpies are taking this competition seriously and will come to play. Anything less than a semi-final appearance will be a major disappointment, but they do have to deal with the added travel and uncustomary surroundings of Browne Park. Definite top-6 - how they back up on Sunday will determine whether they take out the whole show!
Coach: Daniel Roberts
Trial Form: 24-24 draw with Fitzroys sharks & GF Win in Biloela 9s comp.
Players to Watch: Bradley Cameron - Rewind 5-6 years ago and Bradley Cameron would have been hands down the most dangerous nines player in the Rocky region. Of course the Nines wasn't in vogue back then and time catches us all, however Cameron's leadership footy smarts and leadership will be vital for the young Woori side.
Daniel Roberts - As captain-coach a lot of the fortunes of Woorabinda will lay heavily on the shoulders of Daniel Roberts. Roberts is a mercurial with a rare ability to glide through defenses with a combination of guile, speed and footwork. Chip and chase specialist.
The Preview: The Woori style of footy is suited down to the ground to playing Nines footy. Expect exciting tries and high scoring encounters.
Our Tip: You would have to be a madman to write off a Woorabinda team in the Nines format. Whilst we can't write them off it's hard to back them with any confidence - how they turn up on the day will largely determine the Warriors fate. Always bring with them a great supporting crowd that is sure to lift them. In the pool of death with other serious contenders Yeppoon Seagulls, Emu Park Emus, Rton Brothers Blue and Biloela Panthers. If they get through with some momentum to the finals watch out!
Coach: Luke Bateman
Trial Form: 10-24 loss to Rockhampton Brothers & GF Winners of Inaugural CH Nines
Players to Watch:Gerard Tema - .Played majority of the season for Capras in 2015. Has had an injury hampered start to his 2016 campaign that has seen him left out of the Rd-1 Capras team. Expect Tema to be out to prove a point this weekend.