Mitchell Pearce is in line to return for the Roosters after being rested in Round 22.

Ruck the key to Nines glory: Pearce

Roosters captain Mitchell Pearce says teams that play through the middle are likely to succeed at the 2016 NRL Dick Smith Auckland Nines while tipping new signing Jayden Nikorima to thrive in the format.

Pearce admitted the Roosters were still coming to grips with the Nines version of the game in the first two tournaments but is expecting an improved showing at this year's event, taking place at Eden Park Auckland on February 6 and 7. 

"It's different, and to be honest in the first year nobody knew how to play it," Pearce told roosters.com.au.

"Last year we had some games go well and others not so much, but I think the teams that went well played tough through the middle.

"People are always thinking about the space out wide, but in my opinion the ruck is where the game is won."

Pearce tipped former Bronco Jayden Nikorima to excel for the Tricolours, as well as his halves partner Jackson Hastings and the Roosters' mobile forwards.

"I think Jayden Nikorima would go really well with his speed and footwork, and Jackson Hastings would be great as well after playing last year," Pearce said.

"Mobile forwards would thrive, guys like Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Mitchell Aubusson are the type of guys you want running out there."

Read more at roosters.com.au