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SBW to miss Nines tournament

Friday, January 17, 2014

SYDNEY - Sydney Roosters World Cup stars, including Sonny Bill Williams, won't play in the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament next month, coach Trent Robinson says.

The NRL premiers fielded more players than any other club at last year's World Cup, but, according to Robinson, any Tricolours players who were in the Australia and New Zealand squads won't take part in the Eden Park event.

Australia thrashed New Zealand in the final of rugby league's international showpiece on November 30, and with the Roosters' priority the World Club Challenge, a week after the Nines, Robinson said his team would not be able to properly prepare for the clash with Wigan if they also played in the short-form tournament.

"We haven't decided 100 per cent on our team for the Nines but it's pretty hard to play a World Cup and then get ready for the Nines and a World Club Challenge," Robinson told AAP.

"Our focus is the World Club Challenge so for the Australian and Kiwi boys there would have to be a fairly good reason for them to play in the Nines.

"I think it's too short a preparation for those guys to play."

Under Nines' tournament regulations the Roosters are obliged to play one of their top five paid players and 12 of their top 25 players.

That could leave premiership winning halfback Mitchell Pearce to line up alongside returning club legend Brad Fittler to spearhead the Roosters' assault on the Nines on the weekend of February 15 and 16.

Such a matchup might advance Pearce' development as a playmaker, but Robinson said he wasn't sure.

"I'm not sure yet if Mitchell is playing," he said.

"I think it's a unique form of the game and it's a unique promotion for the game.

"It is a bit of expansion for the NRL in another form for schools or internationally but whether it will help with the 13-a-side game I'm not sure."

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