Featherstone head coach Daryl Powell is looking forward to the Rugby League 9s series, which kicks off around the country tonight (Tuesday).
The Big Fellas Stadium will host games on the first evening of the event, with Super League sides Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds taking on Featherstone in the first of four weekly rounds, before the finals day on June 26th.
Powell said: “I like it. I enjoyed playing sevens, and nines is a good middle ground. It’s a platform for attacking rugby and it’s a fantastic development tool.
“We tend to use a mix of Under 18s and Under 23s players, but we’ve also used it to ease back players from injury. It was really well supported last year, so hopefully it will continue this year.”
Although finding a space for it in the calendar might be tricky, Powell wouldn’t say no to more nines rugby, and for Featherstone, it represents another opportunity to showcase themselves as a growing club with Super League aspirations.
He added: “Last year it was a really good occasion. We’re showing that we’re growing on and off the field, and to have Super League quality clubs coming to our ground is a really good opportunity.
“If you can fit it in to the calendar, then it’s great. With four new teams coming in next season, we’re going to have even more games, so it makes it very difficult for the first team to be involved. You only have to look at rugby union where they have players who are virtually devoted to playing sevens.”
As well as the round at Featherstone, there are also 9s festivals at Warrington (Wilderspool Stadium), London (Aldershot Military Stadium) and Hull (Craven Park) tonight (Tuesday).