Despite partially tearing his hamstring off the bone at the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament, Newcastle playmaker Jarrod Mullen is set to tempt fate after being named to captain the Knights at the upcoming tournament.
Mullen's hamstring injury kept him out of the NRL until Round 6 last year and quickly proved to be the beginning of the end of Newcastle's season, with the Knights winning just one of their five games without him before slumping to 11 defeats from their first 13 matches.
But despite the result of last year's Nines campaign, the 27-year-old has no worries running around in the tournament for a second time.
"Everyone kept asking me whether I wanted to play or not and I really do. It's such a great concept, the whole of New Zealand really grasped the concept and a lot of Aussies were over there," Mullen said.
"It will be good to get a trip away out of it as well because you're playing footy from 10 o'clock in the morning to six at night, it will be also great to watch all the young fellas put their skills on display."
Speaking of young guns, Knights coach Rick Stone has named a dynamic squad including noted speedsters Nathan Ross, Jake Mamo, Dane Gagai and the Mata'utia brothers.
It's a squad which Mullen is excited to lead out on to Eden Park to take on the Dragons, Eels and Sea Eagles in the group stage.
"We're going over there with a good young side, to give our younger kids a go. I can't wait to see how Sione [Mata'utia] goes in his second year. Obviously he earned a Test jersey, and he's showing no signs of second year syndrome so I think he's going to be really exciting for us," Mullen said.
"Every squad though will probably fancy themselves; it will all just depend on who plays the game well enough. On paper the Cowboys didn't have the best side [last year] but they ended up winning because they played it the best way. We'll take a bit out of their performances and we'll go over there with a shot."
Maintaining the NRL premiership was the team's primary focus, Mullen said their GPS scores, which will track their workload, will factor into how much of the tournament he and his teammates will play.
"We'll be wearing GPSs in the game – and it's all relevant to our training we were doing before and after Christmas. If the loads are a bit high then you'll probably get rested in some games," Mullen said.
"The big thing is the NRL premiership obviously so that's what we're looking towards mostly, but a few boys might budget to win the Nines and want a bit of extra pocket money."