Three things to look for in the Nines

BY DAN

How about the Nines hey? Like a starving man with a cracker (shouts to Eddie Murphy, Delirious is still genius even if the first twenty minutes are super probbo), I couldn’t be happier there’s some footy(ish) this weekend.

The Nines are a bit weird. Does it predict anything? Can you “break out” in a competition where you’re playing against 2/3rds of a side? Does it not just show that you’re quick? There’s been a lot of effort from NRL media to play up that great players have performed at the 9s before they became big. Which is true, but only in hindsight.

Having said that, is there anything the Raiders can get from the tournament?

1. Elliott Whitehead’s health

If there’s one guy that deserves a rest after playing all but 36 minutes of 2019, as well as a bunch of test matches, it’s Smelly. But in recognition of his mobility, multifaceted talent and leadership position in the squad, he’s been tasked with pointing the kids in the right direction.

This is a risk. John Bateman is hurt and who knows for how long. Hudson Young is our for five more weeks. George Williams is nursing a sore quad. Curtis Scott, well, go well my brother. The depth buffer the Raiders has built into their roster is thinning, and they need everyone on board. We’ll have everything crossed this weekend hoping the whole squad is unscathed, but particular Smelly.

2. Jack Murchie’s mobility

Is Jack Murchie as “jacked” as he looks on insta? It was recently reported he’s pushing out 170kgs in the bench. Dude is a machine.

Up until now though, Jack was meant to be a backrower. I’ve always had a bit of a question about his suitability to that role in the past and his size does contribute to that. Does this muscle inhibit his mobility, particularly in a lateral sense? Jack may be needed this year, and he’s as big as he seems, and more focused on power than pace, it could well mean that he’s transitioning to a middle forward role.

3. Harley Smith-Shields’ talent

Harley is coming into the first grade squad this year and by all reports is incredibly talented. The Raiders 2019 Jersey Flegg player of the year comes with all the wraps, and now we get a chance to see how he goes on the field.

Given the aforementioned Scott situation, and the general test of depth the Raiders are facing, Smith-Shields’ ability to adapt to the top grade could become an important part of any finals aspirations the Green Machine may have.

Is he ready? We won’t know after this weekend, but we’ll have a better idea.

Bring on the footy.


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