Wel­come for NRL Nines

Central Leader - - SPORT -

Rugby league sup­port­ers and fans will get the chance to wel­come all 16 NRL club teams to Auck­land for the first time on Fe­bru­ary 14 at Aotea Square from mid­day.

The in­au­gu­ral NRL Auck­land Nines tour­na­ment will take place on Fe­bru­ary 15 and 16 at Eden Park when the clubs will com­pete in a nine-a-side knock-out tour­na­ment for a prize pool ex­ceed­ing $2.6 mil­lion.

The team wel­come, or­gan­ised by Auck­land Tourism, Events and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment (ATEED), is the first of­fi­cial and only pub­lic event of its kind and more than 250 play­ers will par­tic­i­pate.

The wel­come will in­clude a panel of NRL play­ers and coaches for some ban­ter, anal­y­sis and de­bate lead­ing into weekend fix­ture.

‘‘The rugby league com­mu­nity’s pas­sion is leg­endary, and we know fans will come out to sup­port their favourite NRL club’s team,’’ mayor Len Brown says.

‘‘The Nines will kick off one of Auck­land’s busiest ever week­ends, which in­cludes rap artist Eminem’s con­cert at Western Springs, and the Auck­land Lan­tern Fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing Chi­nese New Year in Al­bert Park. It’s more ev­i­dence that the show never stops in Auck­land.’’

In­de­pen­dent eco­nomic con­sul­tants The Fresh In­for­ma­tion Com­pany es­ti­mates the tour­na­ment will re­sult in an ex­tra 32,800 vis­i­tor nights for the re­gion in 2014, ris­ing to more than 43,000 in the event’s fifth year. The eco­nomic in­jec­tion for Auck­land will be about $3.8m in the first year, in­creas­ing to $6.8m in year five.

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