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Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston against the Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium.

From 18-year-old rookies to a 44-year-old who will still have players looking over their shoulders, the Downer NRL Auckland Nines will throw up some spectacular performances. Here are the players that those who are taking part are looking forward to see in action.

Ryan Hoffman (Warriors)

I think everyone is excited to see how a bloke like Johnathan Thurston goes. He is such an outstanding player in the NRL and a legend of our game. To see him play this format for the first time will be exciting.

Bevan French (Eels)

I'm really looking forward to seeing Corey Norman actually. He got player of the carnival last year and he's been killing it this pre-season and he can create something out of nothing so he's my man to watch. It'll be good to see what Johnathan Thurston and Jarryd Hayne do this weekend as well.

Bunty Afoa (Warriors)

I reckon the young ones in our squad, Isaiah Papalii, Junior Pauga and Lewi Soosemea because they are pretty much unheard of. They haven't played NRL so to see them go up against those guys is going to be interesting.

Kyle Turner (Rabbitohs)

I'm excited to see 'JT' (Johnathan Thurston) play. This will be his first Nines tournament and I can't wait to watch him and see what he does this weekend.

Jordan Kahu (Broncos)

I'm pretty excited to see Gehamat Shibasaki run around. I watched him a couple of times in 20s last year and he's quite speedy and pretty strong as well. He's one of the young guns I'm excited to watch and another one of the 20s boys who hasn't done pre-season with us Gerome Burns. He's here with us and it's a massive opportunity for him.

Elijah Taylor (Wests Tigers)

Esarn Masters has got great feet, good ball-playing skill. Young Moses Suli is another one. He's a good young kid and we've had a few training sessions with him and he's gone really well. Hopefully we can see him in a bit of space and the fans can get a look at him.

Tuimoala Lolohea (Warriors)

I am looking forward to coming up against Bevan French. He made a name for himself at this tournament last year so hopefully we can do our job on him this time around.

David Tyrrell (Rabbitohs)

I'm pretty excited to see young Tyrell Fuimaono and Braidon Burns. They've got a bit of speed and size and power and should be well-suited to the Nines. If we were playing the Titans then I'd like to take on Chris McQueen, but that's another story.

Sam Lisone (Warriors)

My mate Jazz Tevaga and also Semi Radradra. I always look forward to seeing Semi play.

Jordan Turner (Raiders)

In the Nines format there are so many players that you'd love to see. But to be honest, I'm looking forward to seeing all the teams play. This format lends itself to attacking footy so I'm just really excited to be able to watch all of these stars and to participate as well.

Ryan James (Titans)

Tyronne Roberts-Davies and in the forwards Maxy King. Even 'AJ' Brimson. They're all good young 20s players. AJ and Tyronne Roberts-Davies might have a couple of tries between them.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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