Auckland Nines pool preview: Piha

Out of any of the clubs in the Piha pool, interestingly, only the Sharks have played finals football at the Auckland Nines. The Titans, Dragons and Raiders have failed to make it out of the pool stage in both previous tournaments. The Sharks however almost went all the way in 2015, eventually losing to the Rabbitohs in extra time in the final. Possibly one of the more clear-cut groups for determining a winner.

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CRONULLA SHARKS

Past tournaments: 2014 – semi-finals; 2015 – runners up

Player to watch: Matt Prior – Perhaps an odd choice for player to watch but regardless the former centre and back-rower turned prop managed to come up with the second-most offloads (seven) at the 2015 Auckland Nines and the fourth-most metres (300). 

Predicted pool finish: 1st 

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Past tournaments: 2014 – pool stage; 2015 – pool stage

Player to watch: Benji Marshall – Finished the 2015 Auckland Nines tournament with four line-break assists and four try assists – and the Dragons didn't even make it out of their pool. The Red V missed out on the finals on for-and-against in the end and Marshall will again be the focal point of their side.

Predicted pool finish: 2nd

GOLD COAST TITANS

Past tournaments: 2014 – pool stage; 2015 – pool stage

Player to watch: Josh Hoffman – Possessing the speed of an outside back and the skills of a half, Titans utility Hoffman is as important for the Gold Coast as Shaun Johnson is to the Warriors. Hoffman scored three tries at the Auckland Nines earlier this year.

Predicted pool finish: 3rd

 

 

CANBERRA RAIDERS

Past tournaments: 2014 – pool stage; 2015 – pool stage

Player to watch: Adam Clydsdale – Played four games for the Knights in the Nines earlier this year and came up with the eighth-most tackles tournament-wide (32). Proving defence is as important in the game as attack, Clydsdale will prove a rock for the Raiders.

Predicted pool finish: 4th

Other Pool Previews: Hunua | Rangitoto | Waiheke