Rugby League


Canberra Raiders coach sees big picture after Auckland Nines losses

The Canberra Raiders matched the most points conceded in one game and were the only side held scoreless in the other, but assistant coach Matt Parish was looking at the big picture after a winless start to the club's Auckland Nines campaign.

With several Raiders youngsters tipped to be blooded in the NRL this year, a team stacked with under-20 players went down 25-14 to New Zealand before a 24-0 shut-out against North Queensland at Eden Park.

Canberra is realistically out of quarter-final contention but Parish was unperturbed by the results, insisting it was a learning curve for Canberra's crop of rising talent.

Parish took the reins this weekend after coach Ricky Stuart opted to stay home, and only a handful of first-grade regulars made the trip across the ditch.

The likes of Mitch Cornish, Jack Ahearn and Luke Bateman are strong contenders to break into the NRL this year, and showed promising signs.

''We're not that disappointed, I think it's a real good learning curve for the boys,'' Parish said.


''Obviously the result in the second game wasn't what we wanted, but some of the boys showed some good touches.

''They get to play against some of the comp's elite players and playing on the big stage in front of a lot of people can be daunting. They've handled it really well.

''I thought the two young halves [Cornish and Ahearn], Andrew Heffernan and Mitch Cronin played well.''

Parish said Auckland had done a ''super job'' in staging the event, and believes the city has earned hosting rights for the immediate future.

''In my opinion I think Auckland has done a fantastic job and they deserve to keep it,'' Parish said.

''It's good for the development of the game over here, [and] I'm not sure Australians would embrace it as well as the Auckland people have.

''They deserve to keep it for a couple of years at least.''

NRL officials have touted the possibility of expanding the event into a summer league, but Parish said he was happy with the event's positioning as a pre-season showpiece.

''I don't mind where it is now, I think there's enough footy being played,'' he said. ''But in saying that, I know all the players are really enjoying it.''

A Nines title would be a dream result for the NRL and Warriors, who have already qualified for Sunday's finals ahead of their last pool game against North Queensland.

''We definitely want to win this,'' the Warriors' English recruit Sam Tomkins said.

''There is a carnival atmosphere and that is great to play in front of.

''We are looking forward to tomorrow.''

The Raiders play Manly in their final pool match at 12.10pm on Sunday.

with AAP