The Sharks will send a team boasting a sprinkling of both youth and experience for their assault on the upcoming Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines tournament on February 15-16.
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen will make the trip across the Tasman and will be joined by senior club mates Todd Carney and Wade Graham for the inaugural Nines event.
Also a part of the Sharks 16-man squad will be new boys Blake Ayshford, Daniel Holdsworth and Matt Prior for what will be their first ‘official’ outings in Sharks colours.
Throw in the likes of speedsters Nathan Gardner and Nathan Stapleton, not to mention up and coming hooker Michael Lichaa in what will be another opportunity for the highly rated local junior to push for an NRL berth ahead of round one, and the Sharks are set to field a formidable line up.
Kiwi youngster Fa’amanu Brown, a member of the Sharks NYC team and a standout for the under 20’s in 2013, will also be a part of the Sharks Nines squad.
The team will be under the control of interim head coach Peter Sharp, who anticipates his team to be competitive throughout the two day tournament.
“We are sending what we think is a very competitive squad,” Sharp said. “We’ve got some speed, some experience, a bit of mobility in the forwards and Todd Carney steering the ship. So I think we can do well with this group under the unique format of the event.”
The Sharks depart for New Zealand next Monday ahead of the Nines tournament the following weekend.
Prior to the event they will conduct a Community Carnival visit it the Christchurch area, visiting schools and junior league clubs.
The Sharks squad list for the NRL Auckland Nines;
1. Nathan Gardner
2. Nathan Stapleton
3. Blake Ayshford
4. Jonathan Wright
5. Sosaia Feki
6. Todd Carney
7. Daniel Holdsworth
8. Vitale (Junior) Roqica
9. Michael Lichaa
10. Sam Tagataese
11. Wade Graham
12. Matt Prior
13. Paul Gallen
14. Ricky Leutele
15. Tupou Sopoaga
16. Fa’amanu Brown