Nines INSIDER

• The Toyota Cowboys have enjoyed a rest day in Auckland after a 12-hour trip from Townsville to the home city of the NRL Auckland Nines on Wednesday. After a sleep-in, the 18-man squad had a recovery session involving stretching in their team room and a dip in the hotel pool before heading out for an America's Cup-style match racing challenge against a boat crewed by local footy fans.

• Congratulations to Jason Taumalolo who was named New Zealand Rugby League's Rookie of the Year for 2014 at their annual awards night in Auckland on Wednesday. The rampaging lock was able to be present to pick up his award in person after making a quick change into his suit after arriving at Auckland airport. Jase starred at the Four Nations, won by the Kiwis, after turning in an outstanding season in the NRL for the Cowboys.

• The reigning Nines champs are not the only stars staying at their hotel. It's also being occupied by American hip-hop and R&B artists YG and Ty $ign who are performing in Auckland after arriving from Australia.

• Jake Granville may have been part of the inaugural Nines for Brisbane last year but he can say he wasn't totally a victim of the Cowboys in the final. The hooker didn't make the Broncos squad for the decider and watched on as North Queensland claimed their historic win.

• The Cowboys will be first up with Manly at the Nines fan day in downtown Auckland on Friday. They'll be available for autographs and photos at Aetoa Square at 10am.