Josh Dugan is the fans' choice for the Dragons Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
We've asked and the fans have answered. Who are the players rugby league supporters are most looking forward to seeing in action in the inaugural Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines? Will the hard-running forwards or the fleet-footed backs dominate proceedings? And who is the key player for each club?
NRL.com put the question to the game's fans, who had their say on which player (if picked) will have the biggest impact on the tournament from each of the 16 NRL teams.
Voting continues but here are how the votes stood on Monday morning.
Star recruit and former Dally M winner Ben Barba held a commanding lead with 57% of the vote, ahead of fellow fullback Josh Hoffman and workhorse lock Corey Parker.
Canterbury boasts the closest race in the competition, with Josh Morris (36%) and Josh Reynolds (30%) locked in a battle for top spot. Mercurial centre and drop-kick specialist Krisnan Inu (14%) was just edging out enigmatic big man Tony Williams (13%) for third spot.
He's sticking with Canberra for now, and the fans expect Anthony Milford to light up the Nines come February. The Samoa sensation and future Bronco has drawn 69% of the Raiders vote, ahead of rookie Kangaroo Josh Papalii (9%), speedster Reece Robinson (8%) and goal-kicking centre Jarrod Croker (6%).
Australia's World Cup star Johnathan Thurston unsurprisingly led the North Queensland vote with a massive 77%, with Matt Bowen's replacement Lachlan Coote the next best on 7%.
Hulking centre Jamal Idris could make his return from injury in this tournament but he was only running third in the Gold Coast vote on Monday morning with 14% of the Titans' vote, just behind big David Taylor (15%) and the frontrunner – livewire halfback Albert Kelly (45%). Greg Bird (10%) and Kevin Gordon (8%) have also polled well.
There's a bit of competition among the star players from last year's grand finalists, but boom halfback Daly Cherry-Evans looks to have snapped up top spot with 46% of the vote. Brett Stewart (15%), Jamie Lyon (13%), Jorge Taufua (11%) and Kieran Foran (8%) follow, for what could be one of the strongest teams in the Nines tournament.
The 'Big Three' dominate here, unsurprisingly. Kangaroos fullback Billy Slater led with 46% on Monday morning, with skipper Cameron Smith on 21% and Cooper Cronk on 16%. Star centre Will Chambers was the other top contender with 9% of the vote.
It should be no surprise that a club boasting one of the best backlines in the NRL has a decent spread of votes. Darius Boyd (16%), Jarrod Mullen (14%) and Dane Gagai (11%) are in the mix but Fijian flyer Akuila Uate was the runaway leader with 45% on Monday morning.
There is a lot of new talent at Parramatta in 2014 but one man remains the key for the blue and gold army: Jarryd Hayne. He has cruised to top spot with a massive 85%, with star signing Will Hopoate the next best on 8%.
Jamie Soward is finally getting a bit of love from fans, with the former Dragon one of three Panthers to get more than 10% of the vote in the Nines player poll. He was in third place on Monday morning with 13%, behind impressive New Zealand centre Dean Whare (21%) and hard-hitting, hard-running hooker James Segeyaro (42%).
Andrew Fifita may have been the breakthrough star for Cronulla in 2013 – taking out the Dally M prop of the year gong before playing a big part in Australia's World Cup win – but he has a tough fight ahead of him to be named the most popular Sharks Nines player. He was in second place with 29% of the vote, behind leader Todd Carney (45%) and ahead of fullback Michael Gordon (11%).
Footy fans can't wait to see what kind of havoc Greg Inglis can cause against a nine-man defensive line, with the South Sydney fullback earning 68% of the Rabbitohs vote. Hooker Issac Luke is his only real competition with 17%, with star players Adam Reynolds, John Sutton, Nathan Merritt and Sam and George Burgess each holding 5% or less of the vote on Monday morning.
He may have enjoyed a stunning World Cup campaign on the wing for Australia but that hasn't been enough to earn Brett Morris the role of St George Illawarra's most popular Nines player. He had 27% of the Dragons' vote, behind hard-running fullback Josh Dugan (59%) and ahead of former Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop (7%).
He's the star recruit who helped guide the Tricolours to a premiership, and Sonny Bill Williams has earned the fans' vote as the Roosters' most dangerous Nines weapon as well with 54% of the vote. Star centre Michael Jennings has gained plenty of support with 25%, ahead of goal-kicking playmaker James Maloney (9%).
Shaun Johnson is the man for the Auckland Nines competition favourites, shooting out to a commanding 68% of the vote ahead of record-breaking recruit Sam Tomkins (13%) and rampaging centre Konrad Hurrell (7%). The fact that Kiwis fullback Kevin Locke, expert finisher Manu Vatuvei and offload king Feleti Mateo all polled less than 5% shows the kind of strength the Warriors will have on hand at the Nines.
Captain fantastic Robbie Farah is the obvious leader for the Tigers – but there has been quite a spread of votes for this team. He had 37% of the vote on Monday morning, ahead of powerful winger and fan favourite Marika Koroibete (20%), talented rookie halfback Luke Brooks (15%), high-flying winger David Nofoaluma (9%) and returning Super League star Pat Richards (7%).