Canberra have chosen a less-than full-strength team for the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament, with Anthony Milford among the omissions.

Canberra have left dynamic playmaker Anthony Milford out of a weakened squad for the NRL’s Auckland Nines tournament.

Milford and fellow World Cup star Josh Papalii have been rested from the two-day event starting on February 15, so they can best prepare for the start of the NRL premiership.

Other high-profile omissions from the Raiders Nines team include Terry Campese, Shaun Fensom, Josh McCrone, Jack Wighton and Edrick Lee.

Goal-kicking centre Jarrod Croker has been chosen to captain the Raiders for the first time in the Nines, in a side that also features electric winger Reece Robinson and a number of young prospects coming through the club.

However, the Raiders are missing a handful of brilliant attacking players who could potentially dominate in the open spaces of the Nines.

After a disappointing season last year, the Raiders have made it clear their priorities are on best preparing the squad for their round one clash against North Queensland in Townsville.

New coach Ricky Stuart won’t travel with the Nines team, preferring to remain with the remainder of the squad ahead of Canberra’s trial match against Newcastle on February 22.

Assistant coach Matt Parish will instead lead the Raiders in Auckland.

Raiders: Jarrod Croker (C), Reece Robinson, Mitch Cornish, Bill Tupou, Matt McIlwrick, Joel Edwards, Glen Buttriss, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Jarrad Kennedy, Mark Nicholls, Jake Foster, Lagi Setu, Mitch Cronin, Luke Bateman, Jack Ahearn, Andrew Heffernan.