Broncos coach Anthony Griffin has called for a review of the number of games played throughout the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines as a host of teams come to grips with serious injuries to key players.
Griffin was relieved to get through six games "relatively unscathed", a medial ligament injury to David Stagg and a slight concern over Ben Barba's foot their only injuries of note for the tournament runners-up but did express his opinion that fewer games and perhaps an earlier timeslot in the year would be the only improvements he would make.
Lachlan Coote (ACL), Todd Carney (hamstring), Jarrod Mullen (hamstring), David Williams (knee), Luke Keary (shoulder), Curtis Sironen (foot) are all facing extended periods on the sideline with Griffin suggesting the number of games could have played a role.
"We're pretty good compared to some other teams, some other guys are gone for the year," Griffin said. "You're always going to get injuries when you play but if I had one suggestion maybe four games in one day are too many.
"We got through relatively unscathed. Dave Stagg's got a medial problem but won't be too long so that was the main thing. The longer the day went – it was nice to be winning but I was just holding my breath with injuries.
"Most clubs will bring who they can bring and I think if we had it a week or two earlier and maybe one or two less games, that's the only suggestion I've got, before we get into full-on trials."
Captain Corey Parker conceded that getting up for the final against the Cowboys – their fourth game in the space of six-and-a-half hours – was a challenge and said that the possible inclusion of teams from the English Super League could lead to an even more exciting tournament.
"My body didn't feel real flash, but that's probably 32 years of it," Parker said. "It's been a fantastic initiative for the game and everyone was dealt the same sort of thing.
"The recovery we do after a game keeps us sort of where we're at but going up and down and up and down does take its toll but that's not an excuse. I can't fault the tournament, it's been fantastic.
"I was talking to [NRL CEO] Dave Smith earlier and he mentioned that there were some English sides that want to be involved so the opportunities are endless if you want to merge competitions.
"If that was the case we could probably stretch it over a few more days but I think everyone in the room here can say it's been a big success and it's only going to get better."
The runner-up cheque for $240,000 made the trip to New Zealand even more worthwhile and Griffin was effusive in his praise for the organisation of the week of activities.
"I think it's an absolute winner for the game, there's no doubt about that," Griffin said. "Since we've landed on Thursday it's been an absolute pleasure to be here and to be involved and I think every coach and person involved that I've spoken to has said that.
"From our point of view it was nice to win a few games and get to the end; the boys are happy with the prize money.
"It's been a magnificent promotion, the way the organisers have dealt with the teams and looked after us, it's been first class."