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One of five players named in the Wests Tigers’ Auckland Nines tournament yet to make their NRL debut, Kyle Lovett knows just how important this weekend is for him leading into the 2015 season.

Lovett has been named in a youthful side that will be eager to stake their claims for a first grade jumper, with stars of the 2014 Holden Cup team Salesi Funaki, Lamar Liolevave, Delouise Hoeter and Manaia Cherrington all named in an 18-man squad.

While Lovett made the step up to senior football a year earlier than those players, he shares the same dream of an NRL debut and this tournament could be an important stepping-stone.

“Obviously my main goal is to make my (NRL) debut and this is definitely another step closer for me,” Lovett said. “I’ll be out there doing my best and testing myself.”

“I look at (the Auckland Nines) as an opportunity to improve myself; it’ll be a really good experience for me coming up against some quality NRL players.

“I was stoked when JT (Head Coach Jason Taylor) told me I was going; I’m honoured that he picked me and I can’t wait to get out there and give it a good hit-out.”

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Looking back on his junior years, Lovett excelled during his time in the Under 20s competition - winning a premiership in 2012 and captaining the side to the semi-finals the following year.

Starting his Wests Tigers career with an NYC premiership resulted in Lovett forming a close bond with a lot of players that are now in the NRL squad. Amazingly, 11 of the 17 players from that team have played NRL for the Club.

That close bond will be well and truly alive this weekend at the Auckland Nines, with the ‘Class of 2012’ having seven players selected: Lovett, Joel Luani, Sauaso Sue, Nathan Brown, Asipeli Fine, Sitaleki Akauola and Brenden Santi.

“There are a lot of us boys still here from that 2012 team,” Lovett said. “We have trained together and played together over all these years, so going over to the Auckland Nines with a few of them will be another great experience.”

“It will be interesting to see how we go and with a lot of us young guys playing together again it’s going to be a really good experience.”

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Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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