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Who'll win Nines? NRL.com experts have their say

The 2020 season starts in Perth on Friday with the NRL Nines.

More than 60 internationals and 18 players with State of Origin experience will take part, with a host of clubs naming strong teams.

The experts at NRL.com have taken a look at the squad lists and predicted who they think will lift the trophy on Saturday night.

NRL.com experts view

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

The Broncos have named a team brimming with explosiveness and speed. I've had a good look at the squad and it is clear that the Broncos intend to win the title in Perth. I believe they will. I am tipping Anthony Milford to kick-start his season with a bang.

Jamie Soward (Premiership winner)

Parramatta will win the Nines. It's an early chance for the new guys to make a statement ahead of what is the Eels' biggest year since they last won the comp in '86. it is time to produce with one of the best rosters in the NRL.

Iconic games - Broncos foiled by the shot clock

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

They went close in 2017 so I'm tipping the Panthers to go one better with the squad they've picked. Ivan Cleary's men have to get past the Roosters and Knights in the pool stage before they can start thinking of winning it all.

Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter)

Panthers. A lot of clubs have left their star playmakers out so as not to risk them before the NRL season starts. But with Nathan Cleary and Samoan Nines hero Jarome Luai having barnstormers like Liam Martin, Jack Hetherington and Viliame Kikau running off their hips, that's enough for me. The Panthers also have plenty of speed on both flanks.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

Broncos. Given his form playing for Australia in their World Cup Nines triumph last year, I expect David Fifita to wreak havoc alongside Payne Haas. After the big men have laid the platform, the likes of Jamayne Isaako and Kotoni Staggs will find themselves on the end of some Anthony Milford magic.

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

I like the look of the Eels, Cowboys and Broncos squads but on paper, the Sharks look very tough to beat. Shaun Johnson is the ultimate Nines player and Wade Graham is the near-perfect Nines forward while the likes of Blayke Brailey, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Sione Katoa, Will Kennedy, Briton Nikora and Jesse Ramien look perfectly suited to the format.

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

I'll take the Broncos. David Fifita and Payne Haas are the type of forwards that can run riot – and do it all day – in the Nines format.

Iconic games - Ponga, Gela-Mosby and Addo-Carr light up Eden Park

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

Sharks. Shaun Johnson was arguably the best player at the World Cup Nines and the Sharks have a well-balanced squad to complement his skills. Prop Aaron Woods and back-rowers Wade Graham and Billy Magoulias boast ball skills, Jesse Ramien and Josh Morris provide strike on the edges and Chad Townsend and Blayke Brailey will offer direction.  

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)

The Sharks have the best jersey but the Cowboys have plenty of top-line players plus genuine attacking threats like Kyle Feldt, Scott Drinkwater and a rookie that has been creating a lot of buzz in North Queensland circles, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. Also, how do you stop Jason Taumalolo with only nine defenders?

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

I hate to put the jinx on my own team, but I think the Nines presents a great opportunity for the Eels whose strength is their exciting, fast-paced attacking footy. Players like Clint Gutherson, Maika Sivo, Blake Ferguson and Mitch Moses are speedsters and I'm expecting the format to suit them. 

Best plays of the Auckland Nines

Brett Keeble (NRL.com reporter)

Penrith appear to be taking the NRL Nines more seriously than some other clubs, including NSW playmaker Nathan Cleary and Fijian wrecking-ball Billy Kikau among some other big names in their squad. They should have too much experience for their pool-game opponents (Roosters and Knights), then carry that momentum into the knock-out rounds to secure the first trophy of the year. 

Maria Tsialis (Big League editor)

It was a tight race between Brisbane and Parramatta but I think the Eels have the edge. I can't go past the speed of Blake Ferguson and Maika Sivo, plus their selection of mobile forwards like Ryan Matterson and Shaun Lane bodes well. With their big guns in attack making the trip west, they will be hard to beat. 

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com guru) 

After making an inglorious exit from the 2019 premiership race, the Broncos will be out to make an early statement and they have the talent to do just that in Perth. Anthony Milford and Brodie Croft bring footwork and vision, David Fifita and Payne Haas bring power and X-factor and Jamayne Isaako and Izaia Perese offer speed and finishing skills.

The best of Shaun Johnson at the Auckland Nines

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy expert)

Three of the four Nines champions have featured a dominant half that won the player of the tournament (Adam Reynolds, Corey Norman and Connor Watson, with Shaun Johnson the MVP in the first Nines) so I'll tip the Eels with Mitch Moses pulling the strings after topping the NRL try assists tally last year.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

The Broncos have covered all bases by picking a squad with serious speed, power, agility and playmaking ability. They're not heading over just to take part. David Fifita and Jamayne Isaako were standouts at the World Cup 9s last October and should lead the charge with strong support.

Corey Rosser (NRL.com reporter)

The Panthers. All but two members of their squad are top-30 contracted players, and there's talent in there that is made for this format of the game. From the pure pace of Brent Naden and Dylan Edwards, to the potent combination of power and skill possessed by the likes of Viliame Kikau, this is a squad to be feared. 

Jai Field at the Auckland Nines was a sight to behold

Todd Balym (NRL.com reporter)

Broncos. If ever a club needed to start 2020 with some positivity it's the Broncos and they've picked a squad to deliver. With David Fifita and Payne Haas leading the way with size and mobility, the Broncos also boast exceptional speed with the likes of Jamayne Isaako who starred in last year's World Nines for the Kiwis. Anthony Milford will be the player to watch. 

Jonathan Healy (NRL.com reporter)

The Broncos have named a host of their regulars in their squad and should prove hard to beat. The likes of off-season recruit Brodie Croft and highly-rated youngsters Herbie Farnworth and Izaia Perese are also sure to be keen to impress.

Joel Gould (NRL.com reporter)

The Broncos should win the Nines on the back of five-eighth Anthony Milford and powerhouse forwards Payne Haas and David Fifita. With room to move, that trio will unleash a suite of outside backs with speed to burn.

Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter)

I can't look past the Sharks. Shaun Johnson was made for the Nines arena which he proved at the World Nines competition last October. There is also plenty of strength and speed out wide in Wade Graham, Jesse Ramien, William Kennedy and Josh Morris. 

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

Broncos. Anthony Seibold and the Brisbane Broncos finished 2019 well short of expectations. With Payne Hass ready to be unleashed and the silky footwork of Anthony Milford built for nines football, the Broncos are a good chance to be the ones to take it out.

Get your tickets to the 2020 NRL Nines in Perth at nrl.com/tickets.

Official NRL Travel packages, including NRL Nine’s tickets, accommodation options and exclusive experiences with NRL Legends can be purchased via www.nrl.com/travel

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.