Rugby League

Raiders giant Shannon Boyd ready for Auckland Nines test

The big guys usually win in a battle of muscle in the NRL, but it is the little blokes that have Canberra Raiders giant Shannon Boyd on edge ahead of the Auckland Nines.

Boyd, the 122 kilogram, 194 centimetre, 23-year-old battering ram who hunts pigs for fun, has been drafted into the Raiders team for the lightning quick nine's format.

Little and large: Canberra Raiders big man Shannon Boyd will play in the Auckland Nines this year.
Little and large: Canberra Raiders big man Shannon Boyd will play in the Auckland Nines this year. Photo: Melissa Adams

Normally Boyd licks his lips at the sight of a pint-sized back running his way.

But less players on the field means more room to move and Boyd is determined not to let his size be a limiting factor in a trial run for the NRL's reduced interchange rules.

Legend returns: The most capped player in Raiders history, Jason Croker, will be in the club's Auckland Nines team.
Legend returns: The most capped player in Raiders history, Jason Croker, will be in the club's Auckland Nines team. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

"I'm a little bit nervous actually ... but it should be fun, ripping in and having some big carries, trying to get us some go forward," Boyd said grinning.

"Hopefully I can make my tackles when those quick backs come at me. We had a bit of a muck around at training the other day and I was a bit nervous about that.

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"When there's blokes half your weight and twice as quick it gets you a bit on edge, but I'll be right.

"I've been trying to make sure my weight's right to get ready for the less interchanges in the season anyway, I'm not too stressed about it."

Fun and games: Shannon Boyd is keen to play alongside Jason Croker at the Auckland Nines.
Fun and games: Shannon Boyd is keen to play alongside Jason Croker at the Auckland Nines. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Boyd was unveiled on Saturday morning alongside the most capped player in Raiders history, Jason Croker, who is making his comeback at 42 years old.

Jarrod Croker will lead the team with Sam Williams, Sisa Waqa, Paul Vaughan, Jordan Rapana and Kato Ottio also being called into the 18-man squad.

Coach Ricky Stuart using the tournament to test out players and give fringe squad members a chance to shine.

Lock Luke Bateman played in Auckland last year and then went on to make his NRL debut in round one and the Raiders hope this year they can unearth more future stars.

Boyd has been doing extra running sessions at pre-season training in preparation from the NRL's interchange overhaul, which reduces the number of substitutions from 10 to eight.

The change means the game's big front-rowers will have to spend more time on the field, and increase their fitness to ensure they are not exposed defensively.

Twelve months ago Boyd was part of a group of Raiders sending photos of their nightly meals to a nutritionist to help them manage their weight and eat healthily.

"I'm about the 122-123kg at the moment ... I try to monitor that and keep it there, I should be all right," Boyd said.

"It's hard to train for match fitness, it takes a couple of games. But I've got to make sure I can push myself and get the amount of minutes to suit the eight interchanges.

"The nines will be a good test for that, but different to an NRL game, too. There's more space so you've got to be switched on, but it will be handy for me."

Boyd spend part of his off-season back on his family farm, helping his dad and brother in sweltering temperatures in a break from the rigours of the NRL.

"I was looking after sheep, cutting hay and lucerne and that sort of stuff," Boyd said.

"I've always wanted to go back on the farm, that's what I love to do so as soon as I finish footy I'll look to that."

Boyd is at the start of his booming career, playing 41 games since making his debut in the 2014 season.

The nines gives Boyd a chance to play alongside 318-game retired champion Croker.

"He's one of the best players ever at the club so it's going to be pretty awesome," Boyd said.

"I'm looking forward to it, someone who can play that amount of games is ridiculous. It will be good for everyone who gets to play with him and hear his stories."

RAIDERS AUCKLAND NINES TEAM

Jordan Rapana, Kato Ottio, Jarrod Croker, Brenko Lee, Sisa Waqa, Lachlan Croker, Sam Williams, Shannon Boyd, Kurt Baptiste, Paul Vaughan, Jason Croker, Jarrad Kennedy, Luke Bateman, Thomas Cronan, Mitch Barnett, Jack Williams, Zac Santo, Rhys Kennedy