Viliame Kikau of the Panthers scores a try during the NRL NinesSource: AAP

Penrith oozed class, Bulldogs show their grit: What we learned on Day 1 at the Nines


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OK, it’s got a massive element of hit and giggle about it.

But what did we take out of the opening day of the NRL’s Perth Nines in terms of the regular season ahead?

Firstly, the Panthers’ Billy Kikau looks like a complete wrecking ball. Even more so than we’ve seen previously.

Somehow, big Billy’s tipping the scales a little bit lighter but still inflicting equally as much punishment

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Watch him go on the left edge for Penrith this year.

Kikau's monstrous 70m run

Kikau scored two tries in a Panthers side which looked slick, with Nathan Cleary playing full field and calling the shots.

The Broncos might have been upstaged 17-14 in the game of the day but the bigger picture was the first glimpse of Brodie Croft as their primary playmaker.

The early signs are strong. Maybe, just maybe, they’ve found the right player to steer the Formula One Ferrari roster.


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The Broncos did run into a snag with an injury issue for five-eighth Anthony Milford, who is out of the rest of the Nines tournament with a hamstring complaint.

Billy Walters, the son of Queensland coach and champion playmaker Kevin Walters, put on a carve-up for the Wests Tigers as they upstaged the Bunnies.

Walters commentates Walters

Souths? Disappointing. The biggest concern for the Bunnies was Queensland Origin backrower Ethan Lowe hobbling off with a suspected medial injury.

There were upsets galore as the bookies’ favourites were all rolled.

First, the big gun Parramatta side went down against a gutsy Bulldogs outfit full of unsung rookies, Corey Harawira-Naera, an evergreen Andrew Ryan and halfback Jack Cogger.

Fergy Ferg Blake Ferguson showed he’s lost none of his somersaulting, backflipping prowess in scoring a brilliant try for the blue and golds.


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If Fergy stays fit, he looks like he’ll tear it up on the right wing for the Eels again.

The Sharks got a touch-up off arch rivals the Dragons. Has the last fortnight of headlines hurt them? Unlikely.

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Skipper Wade Graham looked super fit and with Blayke Brailey and Chad Townsend there’s enough creativity to survive alarm bells just yet.

Shaun Johnson could be a concern. He’s talked up a bumper off-season but needs to deliver for Cronulla this year.

Finally, it was the Broncos’ turn to come unstuck against the Cowboys.

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Brisbane were heavily hyped leading into the tournament and in fairness looked strong.

But the Cowboys ultimately got the chocolates by three points.

And we’ll do it all again on Saturday to crown a winner.