Stars who refused to say no
Paul Gallen and Corey Parker have revealed that despite having the option of sitting out this weekend they wouldn't take no for an answer - while Rabbitohs and Kiwis star Issac Luke was shattered to miss out.
Plenty of the stars who took part in the recent World Cup won't appear in the Auckland Nines but Gallen revealed at the captain's breakfast on Friday he was appearing despite coach Peter Sharp wanting him to sit it out.
The Sharks skipper told NRL.com that given previous involvement with tournament promoters Duco Events - the Fight for Life promoters who were the primary drivers in establishing the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines - he was keen to be involved with them again, even if it went against coach's orders.
"I was happy to become an ambassador and I figure being an ambassador I'd better turn up!" he laughed.
Earlier he told the breakfast audience he was "flat out making the team to be honest".
"Sharpy doesn't want me to play and we've got a lot of young guys over here who are probably suited to this type of football. I just want to get out there and have a go," he said.
Despite the gruelling World Cup campaign and only returning to full-time training in the new year, Brisbane captain Corey Parker said that there was no doubt in his mind he wanted to be involved in a spectacle he described as an "excitement machine" comparable to cricket's Twenty 20 format.
"Any time you get an opportunity to play footy, personally anyway, I want to be a part of it," Parker said.
"Particularly to be a part of the Nines, there was no doubt in my mind [as] to wanting to play in it. It was more I guess the coaching staff [that would ask players whether they wanted to play] but as you've seen from the team we've brought over we've got a pretty solid squad."
Meanwhile South Sydney's Nines captain Ben Te'o told NRL.com that Souths hooker and New Zealand World Cup star Issac Luke had pleaded with coach Michael Maguire to be able to take part.
"[He was] very disappointed," Te'o said.
"He was going into Madge's office daily - I'm serious - trying to press his case on why he should be allowed to play the Nines. He's right, his body's right, but Madge is right; he needs his rest.
"He's played a lot of football but he's flying over because he wants to be here to watch. He's definitely a player who has been really excited about it."
Te'o said it was unfortunate Souths were missing some players who needed to be rested given the amount of excitement in the country over the event, but that would also give an opportunity to some talented younger players such as Alex Johnston and Irae Simone.
"I was here at Christmas time to see family and I was just getting non-stop questions: Are you playing in the Nines? Who's playing in the Nines? Is 'GI' playing in the Nines?" Te'o said. "So much excitement and that's when I went back to the club and said, 'These guys are pumped for this tournament so let's have a good crack at it.'"