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Putting paid to suggestions their participation made a mockery of the tournament, retired NRL players Brad Fittler and Steve Menzies performed admirably on the opening day of the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines.

While Fittler's 70-metre intercept try stole the show, the 42-year-old didn't look at all out of place, putting his body on the line tackling Eels battering ram Fuifui Moimoi and later in the day cleaning up a dangerous Ben Barba as he threatened to run into space.

The one-on-one hit on Barba was solid but penalised for being too high, much to Fittler's bemusement.

"Can you believe that was a penalty?" he exclaimed to reporters after the game.

"I'm going to have a word to them later, the refs.  What chance did I have? But I knew I had support on my inside so it might have looked like a great tackle but it wasn't that tough."

Fittler also produced some slick passes and was one of the best on field in the Roosters' second up 14-7 win over Brisbane.

Fittler said the body was holding up ok, aside from a sore hip that he hinted may have been the result of one of his tackles on Moimoi.

"I felt better running out than I do walking back in, don't worry!" he laughed.

He also revealed the intercept was far from a fluke - and possibly a direct result of an unwillingness to tackle Sonny Bill Williams at training.

"They defend a bit different now. At training I was taking a lot of intercepts because I didn't want to tackle Sonny," he said. 

"They all knew I was going to take an intercept it was a matter of when."

He also had a friendly dig at the man unfortunate enough to throw the intercept pass, Broncos forward David Stagg.

"David Stagg mate, what's he ball-playing for anyway?" Fittler laughed. "I knew I was going to pick someone off, I left it to 'Staggy'."

Forty-year-old Menzies also didn't look out of place in getting through a fair bit of tackling, and was very welcoming of the Nines concept.

"It was good fun and to play in front of a crowd like this was pretty amazing," Menzies said.

"I think it's a good concept, hopefully it takes off. It's got the right mix, enough tries but defence is there and you can definitely defend a couple of sets of six."

Both Fittler and Menzies said the players would get better at it in future years once they'd had a chance to practice it more and familiarise themselves with the style of play.

"I think it's fantastic, I think it's a great game," Fittler said.

"As teams practice a bit more they'll perfect it but the same things that win you NRL games win these games. As a concept, I can't give it a big enough rap."

He added that he'd consider playing again next year if he was fit but added: "I don't know if I'm locked in for tomorrow yet, I'm a bit dusty and I've got a bit of a hip thing.

"But it's awesome, I think every ex player should strive to come back and play a game."

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National Rugby League respects and honours 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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