Eels out to win it: Brown
New Eels prop Nathan Brown says while the squad hasn't spoken about their controversial loss of the 2016 Auckland Nines title due to the club's rorting of the NRL salary cap, the current playing group is determined to win the 2017 instalment.
While some clubs such as Penrith, Canterbury, Canberra and Melbourne have named a host of up-and-coming players with just a smattering of big names, the Eels – along with 2015 winners North Queensland and the Broncos – have packed their squads with big names, mobile forwards and dangerous outside backs.
There was a view in some quarters that the Nines trophy won by the Eels in 2016 should not have been stripped as clubs leave the bulk of their salary cap at home and some clubs recall retired legends who aren't under contract to feature, but Brown said that hadn't been discussed by the players.
"We haven't spoken about that at all to be honest – we're going out to win and play some good footy," Brown told NRL.com on the eve of the tournament.
"'BA' [Eels coach Brad Arthur] said that every time you put the Parramatta jersey on you want to put it on with pride and go out there to win."
With a Nines squad featuring star playmaker Corey Norman, who was the player of the tournament this time last year, plus pacey fullback Bevan French – who broke the tournament try-scoring record in 2016 with nine tries in five games – along with the likes of Kenny Edwards and Tepai Moeroa who are the perfect style of forward for the format, there is no question the Eels are among the weekend's big chances.
For Brown, it is his second trip across for the pre-season tourney having also featured very early on in his career in 2015 when he was still at Wests Tigers, shortly before switching to the Rabbitohs.
"I played with Tigers a couple of years ago, this is my second trip," he said.
As a rugged, mobile, hard-hitting young prop, Brown is another who should relish the format but he played down his own important to his team's hopes of claiming their first official Nines trophy.
"It's a good week, all the boys want to get out there and play a bit of footy and there's nowhere better to do it than the Nines," he said.
"We're going across there to win, enjoy playing a bit of footy and enjoy playing together. It's a good comp, we've got a couple of young guys in our squad so it's a good opportunity for them to play against some NRL players."