Wests Tigers have today announced an 18-man squad to travel to New Zealand for the 2016 Auckland Nines tournament at Eden Park.
Chris Lawrence will captain the side for the second consecutive year, with the two-day event taking place on February 6 and 7.
With last year’s side having a successful tournament by making it through to the semi-finals, 10 players from that team will be making the trip again in 2016.
Six players in the team will play their first NRL Auckland Nines tournament, including rookies Joshua Addo-Carr, Tyler Cassel and Watson Heleta.
The tournament will be the first hit-out in Wests Tigers colours for a number of new recruits such as Michael Chee-Kam, Justin Hunt and Jack Littlejohn.
It’s side boasting youth but also experience and is headlined by exciting players including Tim Simona, Kevin Naiqama and Manaia Cherrington.
Wests Tigers Head Coach Jason Taylor said that the tournament is a good opportunity for a number of players to show their credentials ahead of the NRL season.
“There are a number of guys who will travel to Auckland that are in contention for Round 1 positions,” Taylor said. “While this tournament is played in a much different format to the average NRL game, it provides these players with another opportunity to put their best foot forward before the year commences.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of our new recruits in action and also a few of the younger players who have stepped up into the NRL squad.
“It’s an exciting style of rugby league that will be played over the weekend and I feel that this squad has a good mix of both youth and experience.”
Wests Tigers have been drawn in the Rangitoto Pool, which includes the Newcastle Knights, North Queensland Cowboys and Penrith Panthers.
The squad will depart for Auckland on Thursday with numerous activities scheduled in the lead-up to the start of the tournament on Saturday.
Wests Tigers 2016 NRL Auckland Nines Squad
(Previous tournaments listed in brackets, * = yet to play Auckland Nines)
Chris Lawrence - Captain (1 – 2015)
Jack Buchanan (1 – 2015)
Michael Chee-Kam (2 – 2014-15)
Manaia Cherrington (2 – 2014-15)
Josh Drinkwater (1 – 2015)
Lamar Liolevave (1 -2015)
Jack Littlejohn (1 – 2014)
Kyle Lovett (1 – 2015)
Kevin Naiqama (2 – 2014-15)
Ava Seumanufagai (1 – 2015)
Tim Simona (1 – 2015)
Sauaso Sue (1 – 2015)