Canberra man mountain Shannon Boyd reckons he’ll struggle at next weekend’s NRL Auckland Nines as he tries to ready himself for the league’s new interchange rules.
The front rower was on Saturday named in an 18-man squad for the tournament, alongside fellow big man Paul Vaughan and two generations of Crokers – 42-year-old retired star Jason and his nephew Lachlan.
Boyd hasn’t played the nine-a-side format but is keen to test himself in the fast-paced event.
With the NRL restricting teams to just eight interchanges a game in 2016, down from 10, players like Boyd will be expected to play more minutes.
He’s managed to keep his weight to below 122kg in the off-season and work on match match fitness.
“It’ll be pretty daunting going over there for a big bloke like myself,” he told AAP.
“I’d think I’d struggle a bit.
“(Coach Ricky Stuart) just wants me to just keep pushing myself and doing a lot more running, so I should be alright.”
Five-eighth Blake Austin and new recruit Aidan Sezer won’t make the trip to New Zealand, as they continue to recover from respective off-season shoulder surgeries.
Hooker Josh Hodgson was also left out of the youthful-looking squad, to be captained by regular skipper Jarrod Croker.
With Jason’s return and Lachlan’s inclusion, there’s a chance three Crokers could take the field at the same time.
Jason Croker represented Australia at the World Nines in Fiji in 1997 but hasn’t played for the Raiders since retiring from the NRL in 2006.
“I’m excited about playing for the Raiders again but even more excited about the chance to run around with some of the young stars coming through the ranks at the club at the moment,” he said.
Sam Williams will get the chance to show his wares as he battles Sezer and Austin for a spot in the halves this season, as will back-up No.9 Kurt Baptiste.
Canberra squad: Jordan Rapana, Kato Ottio, Jarrod Croker (c), 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.