St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower Will Matthews is ready to test himself after being named in the team to take part in the NRL Auckland Nines competition taking place at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday, February 6-Sunday, February 7.
The Kyogle Turkeys junior is in the midst of his rehabilitation after having shoulder surgery during the off-season and is eager to return to the field in a somewhat favourable environment.
“It’s pretty exciting for me as I played there last season so I kind of know what to expect,” said Matthews.
“It’s an exciting weekend to be a part of getting to have a bit of match fitness while having fun and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s a different concept and style of play to what we are used to but it allows players to express themselves differently on the field.”
The Dragons have been included in the Piha Pool alongside the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Gold Coast Titans and Canberra Raiders in the two-day tournament to be staged on Saturday, February 6 and Sunday, February 7.
All 16 NRL teams will enter the tournament which carries prize money of more than $AU2.4 million.
The teams, which have nine players, are split into the four pools and play nine minute halves.
The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage of the tournament before the two top teams play in the final.
The full squads for the pre-season fixtures are yet to be finalised but all players, provided they are fit, will either be competing against the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls at Redlands or taking part in the NRL Auckland Nines as both events are on the same weekend.
Each day the Dragons will reveal an additional member of the travelling squads for either the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls or NRL Auckland Nines team, alternating the teams, via dragons.com.au and our respective social media channels.
Wynnum-Manly Seagulls Squad:
Gareth Widdop (c)
NRL Nines Squad:
Jack de Belin