League fans await NRL 9s
The NRL 9s can’t come soon enough for two city-based rugby league clubs.
That’s because they will have some of the biggest names in the NRL walk through their doors to meet and rub shoulders with members.
It all goes down on the afternoon of February 13, two days before the inaugural $2.25 million tournament kicks off at Eden Park.
Pt Chevalier Pirates will host Brisbane Broncos from 4.30pm to 6.30pm at Walker Park and Richmond Rovers will get a visit from the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles between 5pm and 7pm at Grey Lynn Park.
Sixteen clubs from across the greater Auckland region are holding similar sessions with other teams that same day. All applied to take part through Auckland Rugby League earlier this year and the exercise is designed to promote the sport at grass roots level and give youngsters the chance to meet their heroes.
Crowds of up to 2000 are expected at some venues.
‘‘To have the stars of our game at local league grounds is huge for grass roots rugby league and I know the clubs want to provide a unique experience for each team,’’ ARL chairman Dene Biddlecombe says.
The link-ups were made at the request of event organisers Duco Promotions and the NRL and were facilitated by Auckland Rugby League.
The schedule was announced on Monday by mayor Len Brown.
‘‘We hope a new generation of players will be inspired by the chance to meet and interact with their club’s adopted NRL team,’’ he says.
The NRL 9s will be played on February 15 and 16 at Eden Park and will feature all 16 NRL clubs and 256 star players competing for a slice of more than $2 million Australian prize money.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic development general manager Rachael Carrol says the event is huge.
‘‘This will become an economic anchor over time and bring legacy benefits to Auckland and New Zealand by way of Rugby league development,’’ she says.
Big day: The NRL 9s Club announcement at the Manukau Rugby League clubrooms on Monday. From left: ARL chairman Scott Carter, ARL chairman Dene Biddlecombe, mayor Len Brown and Te Napi Waipouri, 12.