The NRL Nines might not grab all rugby league fans but there's still always plenty of reason to tune in later this week.
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You get to view your club's new faces (Ryan Matterson will definitely tear it up in the blue and gold), get an early insight into what new coaches might bring, watch the up-and-coming talent at each club, and see if all those off-season rumours about players training the house down are true.
But people in the western area have another reason to tune in on Friday and Saturday.
The will be a whole host of Western Rams juniors in action at Perth, with players hailing from Coonamble to Wellington and Parkes to Bathurst all set to take part in the action-packed format.
There will be 13 western area products in total who take to the field in Perth and there will be another in the coaching ranks.
There could have been even more if not for injury and load management, but there's still enough players from our region going to field a side of their own.
With that in mind, I've taken a look at who will be in the mix and had a go at putting such a side together, focusing on five attributes needed in the paid action-packed nines format.
This Western side has plenty.
If you saw Will Kennedy in action for Newtown and the Cronulla Sharks last season you'd know why he's been put here.
An electric runner with the ball who's incredibly hard to bring down, the Bathurst St Pat's junior lined up at fullback for the Jets and played a starring role in the run to both the Canterbury Cup and State Championship titles.
Plus he's the son of bush footy legend 'Bubba' Kennedy so we know he's got some x-factor.
The other player with speed to burn is Cody Ramsey.
You might not know the name but keep an eye on the St George Illawarra Dragons this in Perth.
Ramsey hasn't broken through and made it to the NRL yet like Kennedy has, but he showed in his junior years with Orange CYMS and Manildra he can break a game wide open.
A fullback by trade, if Ramsey gets some space to work with in Perth it will be worth tuning in.
This is a must in nines. Yes, there's a lot more space and players get tired so gaps appear but you still need to know what to do with it.
You need to know when to make runs, when to back yourself on the outside, and how to product the kind of acrobatic finishes which are now commonplace in the NRL.
Step up, Blake Ferguson.
A proud Wellington product who has already said he'd love to play for the Cowboys once his career at the top level has finished, Ferguson is expected to get a number of try-scoring opportunities in Perth as part of a loaded Parramatta squad.
One of the most renown outside backs in the game, if sometimes prone to the odd brain-fade, Ferguson would be perfect to finish off moves created by this young exciting Western side.
Plus, he'd combine brilliantly with fellow Wellington junior Brent Naden.
After bouncing around a number of clubs Naden burst onto the scene with Penrith last year and quickly established himself as one of the most reliable players in the Panthers' squad.
He scored eight tries in 12 appearances for the Panthers last season, proving his quality as a finisher.
Another who fits into this category is Braidon Burns.
The Coonamble Bears junior and current South Sydney Rabbitohs outside back has received a huge amount of praise from Wayne Bennett.
Do we need to say much more?
Injury cut his 2019 season short but Burns was just starting to make real waves for the Rabbitohs after some time in the lower grades in previous years.
Western has got pace at the back and the men to finish the raids on the opposition try lines, but you still need those players to get you in attacking territory.
Nines might be all about the fast-paced action but basic footy skills are still needed and this Western side would need some bigger bodies to take those couple of hit-ups a set while also providing some athleticism.
Thankfully, there's two Penrith Panthers who can provide just that.
Kaide Ellis has got a taste of the NRL before while the former Dubbo CYMS junior has been a consistent performer in the Canterbury Cup for a number of years, having even captained the Panthers at that level.
He's been a workhorse for both CYMS and the Panthers and that's just what is needed in nines.
Ellis could be joined on the park by Parkes' Billy Burns.
Burns is another Western Rams graduate who made an NRL debut in 2019 and more appearances for the Panthers in 2020 is on the cards.
Another workhorse, the hard-running Burns might not be the biggest body but he won't shirk away from any challenge.
The fact he's played out wide in the second row and also in the centres is also a boost, with that versatility to be something handy in nines.
We've got the work horses and the glitzy players, but how about a few who will just run over the top of rivals? That's what we really want.
And who better to do that than Jesse Ramien?
OK, 2019 wasn't a season he'll look back on too fondly but after leaving Newcastle and making a return to Cronulla he's primed to rediscover the kind of form which had him in the Origin conversation.
A barnstorming centre who can trample opponents on the way to the try line, Coonamble Bears junior Ramien is sure to thrive when gets one-on-one opportunities in the nines format.
The other two in this section might not have the explosiveness of Ramien, but they've certainly still got strength.
Darby Medlyn is sure to not let anyone down while playing for Canberra at the nines.
The former Parkes and Western Rams juniors captain will get through a mountain of work and as we saw when he represented the NSW under 20s Origin side last season, he's capable of stepping up to the challenge of a higher level.
A real impact-maker in defence, Medlyn would provide some real youthful energy to the centre of the park.
And that would perfectly compliment the experience provided by Andrew Ryan.
That's right, the 41-year-old Dubbo product is back in the blue and white of Canterbury and I'd love him in our Western side too. Hell, I'd name him captain.
Sure, he won't be the same player as he was during the nine years he spent at Canterbury previously, but he'll still deliver.
Now, let's bring it all together.
This side needs some players to steer the ship while also providing a little x-factor and ability to change things quickly.
Western has got the players for that.
Matt Burton put his name up in lights last season and the former Dubbo CYMS star is on track to add to his sole NRL appearance with Penrith in 2020.
A classy performer in the halves with a brilliant kicking game, Burton can steer any side around.
Throw in his strong running game and willingness to put his body on the line and 'Burto' could really make an impact in Perth.
Burton is someone who already has a strong combination with Bayden Searle and they could team up again for the Western nines side.
Searle has impressed the hierarchy at Newcastle since making the move to the Hunter in 2018 and he'll get a taste of the top-flight in Perth.
Another who possesses a fine kicking game and also loves to run the ball, the Dubbo CYMS product is capable of taking another big stride forward this week.
Last, but definitely not least, is Tyrone Peachey.
Brad Fittler is a fan of the Wellington product and he's got the spark and versatility that really comes to the fore in nines.
He's played in halves, in the centres, the second row, and at hooker. You'd be silly not have someone of his quality in a nines side.
Tying it all together is Dean Pay. And while his Canterbury Bulldogs side might not have achieved a huge amount in the NRL the former Group 11-premiership winning mentor with Dubbo CYMS has shown real promise.
His ability to improve young players is clear to see at a rebuilding Bulldogs outfit and he'd be perfect this hypothetical Western outfit.
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