The draw for the return of NRL Nines in 2020 was held in Perth on Friday, with the conduction of a live draw leading to plenty of exciting match ups ahead of the February 14-15 event.
NRL legends Brett Kimmorley and Roy Asotasi and West Australian sporting identities Olivia Vivian, Matt Hodgson and Greg Hire each took turns in randomly selecting the teams out of an official NRL Nines barrel to decide the draw.
There was also one wildcard allowing a personal choice swap, drawn by Olivia Vivian, who swapped the Sharks and Roosters. This set up the clash between rivals the Sharks and Dragons while ensuring the Roosters faced off against some potential ex-teammates at Newcastle while also coming up against Nines specialists the Warriors.
The four pools will feature some fierce rivalries, with the Broncos to face the Cowboys and Sea Eagles to face the Storm all in group four, while the Eels and Dogs are pitted against each other as are the Dragons and Sharks in group two.
In the women's draw, the Warriors and Roosters will kick-off festivities at 4pm Friday afternoon, before the Broncos and Dragons round out action on Day One at 8:05pm.
"Nines promises to be the ultimate summer rugby league fun for families and fans," NRL Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Abdo said.
"The tournament will showcase a dynamic new-look game, with new rules and a new attitude, designed to engage and entertain fans.
"It's an exciting and bold new format and we know fans are going to love it."
Kiwi, Bulldogs and Rabbitohs legend Asotasi told NRL.com he was excited for the event, particularly given the emerging generation of mobile front rowers had skillsets comparable to halfbacks.
"It's great to see the Nines coming back after a bit of an absence and the players will be busting to pull on the boots and play some football and show what they've been working on over the off-season," Asotasi said.
"Coming out west too, it's a great place to play footy and good exposure for them because they've been trying to get a team in the NRL for a long time.
"I think it's a great concept, players like Kalyn Ponga or Valentine Holmes coming back to the game, it gives them a chance to showcase their skill sets,
"Front-rowers in the modern game have skills like halfbacks so for them to be able do it in the shorter game is awesome."
Kangaroos and Blues legend Kimmorley also welcomed the chance for Perth to host top-flight rugby league and was looking forward to seeing what the likes of Ponga, Holmes, David Fifita and James Tedesco could produce.
"It's exciting times over here, the Nines is an amazing competition – we had the World Nines after the NRL season now the NRL Nines is being played in February to kick off the comp," Kimmorley said.
"There are no seeded teams so I'm looking forward to it being a sort of lucky dip in a way. There will also be some guidelines around the clubs having to send over a certain number of their top 30 rostered players but I think most clubs will have a serious crack at trying to win it.
NRL Nines 2020 is headed to Perth
"They can use it as a first hit-out to get a look at the next crop of superstars coming into our game.
"We've lost a few big scalps over the past few years but the next crop of talent emerging over the past 12 months continues to show us the next generation of talent is always coming through."
Fans can buy tickets now on www.nrl.com/tickets, while the tournament will be broadcast live on Fox League and KAYO Sports in Australia, as well as SKY in New Zealand.