Wayne Cousins, Auckland Nines
Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah says the role of the sin bin in next month's Dick Smith NRL Nines tournament could well have a major impact on a team's chances.
Under the rules set for the $2.7 million tournament, referees will have the power to send players to the sin-bin for five minutes for foul play at Eden Park on the weekend of February 15-16.
"It will be interesting to see how the referees use the rule. I've always been a fan of the sin bin and to lose a player for five minutes in a nine-minute half is certainly a big whack,'' Farah said.
"It will be hard enough playing with nine players in a side yet alone if you have to cover a whole field with eight players. It will certainly be a big disadvantage if you get a player sent to the sin-bin. It could well be the difference between winning and losing and how far a team progresses in the competition."
Farah will spend three days in Auckland next week promoting the tournament and the chances of his Wests Tigers team, rated one of the early favourites. He will also take time out to try sailing on one of New Zealand's America's Cup yachts.
"I'm really looking forward to the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines,'' he said.
"It has been a while since we have had this sort of tournament in our game and I think it is long overdue. It is going to be exciting brand of footy and one that will suit my game.
"Some of the different rule changes will make the game even faster. I think you need a good mix of speed out wide and some mobile forwards with a bit of skill and passing in their game.
"I don't think you will find too many teams that will pick just outside backs. It is still going to be pretty physical and nine a side will still mean there will be some structure there.
"I think teams will adjust as the tournament goes on and pick up a few tips from what everyone else is doing."
Farah said the return of powerful winger and noted big kicker Pat Richards would certainly enhance his team's chances of taking home the rich prize-money on offer.
"Some of the drop kicks Pat has kicked not only for Wests Tigers in the past but in the English Super League were amazing. He kicks them from anywhere so hopefully that will be a bit of an ace up our sleeves in the Nines tournament,'' Farah said.
"Players like speedsters Marika Koroibete and David Nofoaluma would be dynamic in open space if they make the squad.
"We will also want to have some forwards like Adam Blair, Aaron Woods and Suaso Sue who are mobile and work hard in the middle who have got a bit of agility and a good passing game."