Sun­corp to go the whole nine yards for tour­na­ment

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - PAUL MALONE @pmalone_c­mail

SUN­CORP Stadium is open for busi­ness as a po­ten­tial host of the re­vived World Nines rugby league tour­na­ment in 2019.

The Rugby League In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion last week said there had been ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est for a tour­na­ment in­volv­ing na­tional teams from at least 16 na­tions and the plan is for the first to be played in Aus­tralia.

Sun­corp Stadium gen­eral man­ager Alan Gra­ham said the op­er­a­tors of the stadium would “definitely be in­ter­ested’’ in dis­cussing the event when RLIF heavy­weights con­verge on Bris­bane in two weeks for the first World Cup semi-fi­nal.

Tourism and Events Queens­land and the Sun­corp Stadium bosses have worked well in re­cent years to se­cure big sport­ing events for the state.

“We’ve shown with the (2017 rugby union) Global Tens that we are well set up to host a tour­na­ment like that with lots of teams,’’ Gra­ham said yes­ter­day.

“It’s a new com­pe­ti­tion we would need to ask ques­tions about and they (the RLIF of­fi­cials) will be in Bris­bane for the semi-fi­nal and the fi­nal of the World Cup. It’s a ques­tion of tim­ing as well.’’

Sun­corp Stadium would be the safest bet for the RLIF to re­vive the Nines con­cept which was played in Townsville and Suva in the 1990s.

Bris­bane’s track record for big-event league crowds speaks for it­self and the stadium’s nearby en­ter­tain­ment precinct add to the party at­mos­phere which en­hances tour­na­ments in Sev­ens and Nines football in the two rugby codes.

Gra­ham said he did not know whether the RLIF were plan­ning it as a pre-sea­son tour­na­ment or a late-2019 at­trac­tion.

The Aus­tralian and Bri­tish leagues are well ad­vanced in plan­ning for Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber 2019, when the Lions tour Aus­tralia for a three-Test se­ries along tra­di­tional Ashes rugby league lines.

To play a World Nines in the pre-sea­son in 2019 would seem to be an­other bar­rier to the con­ti­nu­ity of the NRL Nines con­cept, which is on hold next Fe­bru­ary due to the late fin­ish of the World Cup.

CHARG­ING: Samoa’s Bunty Afoa is tack­led by Scot Os­car Thomas. Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

WE’RE READY: Alan Gra­ham.

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