Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson will unleash new signing Joe Burgess but few other stars in this weekend’s NRL Auckland Nines, keeping his new halves pairing in cotton wool in the wake of the Mitchell Pearce controversy.
England international winger Burgess – no relation to South Sydney’s title-winning siblings – will make his tri-colours debut at Eden Park.
Former Kangaroos flyer Daniel Tupou and Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall also feature.
Former Roosters captain Braith Anasta – who retired in 2014 – will skipper the squad, having announced last month he would strap on the boots again at the Nines.
But Robinson has kept the rest of his stars on ice including likely new halves pairing Jackson Hastings and Jayden Nikorima, clearly not willing to risk risk injury.
Hastings looks set to step up for Pearce who has left for an overseas rehabilitation clinic following his infamous Australia Day bender.
Blake Ferguson and new signing Dale Copley were also conspicuous by their absence from the Nines squad.
Robinson also opted not to use any of his big name forwards, instead injecting the likes of veteran hooker Ian Henderson who returns to the Roosters after three years with the Catalans Dragons in Super League.
Young backs Latrell Mitchell and Joseph Manu will take the step up from under-20s after also being included.
Roosters’ Nines squad: Latrell Mitchell, Daniel Tupou, Brendan Elliot, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Joe Burgess, Braith Anasta (capt), Tyler Cornish, Isaac Liu, Ian Henderson, Abraham Papalii, Vincent Leuluai, Eloni Vunakece, Nat Butcher, Connor Watson, Joseph Manu, Nathan Smith, Joey Lussick, Omar Slaimankhel.