The NRL Auckland Nines can become rugby league’s answer to Twenty20 cricket says Kangaroos back-rower Anthony Watmough.
Cricket’s shortest format has exploded in popularity worldwide in recent years and Australia’s domestic tournament has scored stunning TV ratings in its first season on free-to-air TV this summer.
T20 has given cricket another invaluable way to market itself and attract new fans and Manly star Watmough says next month’s Nines tournament can do likewise for rugby league.
“Everyone will be chomping at the bit when it comes around,” Watmough said.
“It is one of those things that will be massive. They are talking about a sellout and I’m really looking forward to getting out there and I know a lot of the other blokes are as well
“It could be massive, it could be like Twenty20, where it just gets bigger and bigger every year.
“I was part of the ARL Sevens back then and to be part of something like this, something new will be quite special.”
Manly were perennial contenders at the old Rugby League World Sevens tournament, when current coach Geoff Toovey often starred, and look likely to be so in the two-day event to be held at Eden Park on February 15 and 16.
Watmough is a certain starter for the short-form tournament with a number of the Sea Eagles’ other stars set to play including captain Jamie Lyon.
“For some of the older boys who maybe have it a bit easier in the pre-season it will be a good opportunity to blow out the cobwebs,” Watmough said at a promotion for the tournament on Wednesday.”
“I know Killer (Lyon) and few of the older boys are really excited about it all.
“It’s weird because no one knows what to expect … you have the bonus point try under the posts, do you go for that all the time?
“Who do you use? Do you use fast blokes or do you use big blokes?
“Because you are definitely going to need to big blokes to get your go forward.
“Although there is a few less players on the field there is not that much room out there so you are going to need your big blokes to do some work, whereas before in the Sevens you could just run around people and score.
“It will be interesting. I dare say we will have to train a little bit for it and away we go.”