Rugby league fans keen for NRL 9s

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The NRL 9s can’t come soon enough for the Bay Roskill Vik­ings rugby league club.

That’s be­cause it will have some of the big­gest names in the NRL walk through its 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.

Bay Roskill will host the Can­berra Raiders from 6pm to 8pm at the Block­house Bay Re­serve and Marist Saints will be vis­ited by the New Zealand War­riors from 4pm to 6pm.

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.’’ 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 and eco­nomic an­chor over time and bring legacy ben­e­fits to Auck­land and New Zealand by way of Rugby league de­vel­op­ment,’’ she says.

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