Melbourne's Nines coach Adam O'Brien believes kicking will play a vital role in determining success at this weekend's tournament as teams look to emulate the tactics of last season's winners South Sydney.
O'Brien, who is regarded as the next NRL coach to have learnt his trade under Craig Bellamy at the Storm, believes the selection of Blake Green and fellow halves Ben Hampton and Brodie Croft will provide the club with its strongest Nines squad yet.
Superstar fullback Billy Slater will assist O'Brien after failing to recover from off-season shoulder surgery in time to play, with Green to captain the team in his absence.
"It's the most competitive side we have sent in the three years of the Nines," O'Brien said. "We have always gone over there with part-time halves but having Greeny, Ben Hampton and young Croft will give us a little bit of stability.
"If you look at the way Souths played last year, they won it on the back of Adam Reynolds' kicking game, so that just highlighted the importance of having a half who can take control of the game.
"In the first year there were a lot of errors and a lot of forced passes, but Souths wore teams down with repeat sets and kicked a lot of 40:20s so I think there has to be more structure and play in the middle than long passing to attack space. Turning cheap ball down your end is very costly and very hard to defend."
O'Brien, who has responsibility for the Storm's attack, is the most senior member of Bellamy's coaching staff after eight years under the man considered one of the best mentors in the game.
Michael Maguire (South Sydney), Stephen Kearney (New Zealand), Brad Arthur (Parramatta) and Kevin Walters (Queensland) all spent time learning their trade in Melbourne and O'Brien said Bellamy actively encouraged the development of coaches.
"Craig is obviously the best coach in the game but he is really good at giving you a role and letting you get on with it, so I think we are lucky to coach underneath him," O'Brien said.
"At the start of the year he spells out what he wants from you and he doesn't sit on your shoulder and man manage you.
"You are not just out there collecting witches hats and taking stats, you have a very hands-on role with the team. You get to interact with the players and I guess with the success he has had over the years, he is comfortable enough to just let you get on with the job.
"I think that is why he has developed so many coaches and it is also the way he develops his players.
"Certainly if he thinks you are not doing it he will be the first one to tell you but the freedom he allows you to have is very refreshing and that certainly makes you want to go and do it for him, so I am very grateful for the opportunity to go over to the Nines and do the job again."
O'Brien joined the Storm in 2008 and worked alongside Arthur with the club's 2009 under-20s premiership-winning team, which included Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Gareth Widdop, Jordan McLean, Matt Duffie, Kevin Proctor, Luke Kelly, Robbie Rochow and Justin O'Neill.
After a stint as senior development coach, he was given charge of Melbourne's attack in 2012 as an assistant to Bellamy and is now the most senior member of his coaching staff.
"It is my goal to one day be a head coach in the NRL but because you feel you have a hands-on role the with team, the job satisfaction is here for me and I am very content with what is happening here at the moment," he said.