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Auckland Nines should be scrapped: Penrith

NZN 30/01/2017 Warren Barnsley

Penrith want the NRL Auckland Nines scrapped.

Panthers boss Brian Fletcher has labelled the pre-season competition an unnecessary risk to players ahead of its fourth edition in New Zealand, starting Saturday.

"We have $A8 ($NZ8.3) million worth of footballers we want to win the (NRL) comp with, not a Nines," Fletcher told News Corp Australia.

Fletcher questioned the competition's value to stars whose off-season break was shortened by representative duties, including last year's end-of-season Four Nations.

He was also concerned by the impact on players who have been recovering from injury in the pre-season.

He said a series of trial matches, rather than the Nines, was better preparation for the NRL season.

"Do we need to be there? The answer is 'no'," Fletcher said.

"I think you simply don't need the Nines.

"What benefit does the Nines have on our season?''

A number of players have missed NRL matches due to injuries sustained at the Nines in previous years.

Newcastle playmaker Jarrod Mullen spent about two months on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring at the 2014 Nines.

Manly lost hooker Jayden Hodges for 2016 after he suffered a knee injury, while back-rower Jamie Buhrer broke his jaw and prop Jake Trbojevic was concussed last year.

This year's competition on February 4-5 will see rugby league stars Jarryd Hayne, Jack Bird and Semi Radradra compete, but a host of other prominent players will sit it out.

New recruit James Tamou will line up for the Panthers alongside impressive youngster Nathan Cleary and fellow regular first-graders Waqa Blake and Nines captain Isaah Yeo.

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