Next year, 16 local rugby league clubs across Auckland get another chance to host the 16 NRL teams participating in the Dick Smith NRL Auckland nines Waitangi weekend tournament in February 2016.
The grassroots initiative gives thousands of local rugby league club fans and their families a chance to take part in skills and meet and greet some of their international league stars.
Each of the local clubs receive a $2000 equipment package with the support of Mayor Len Brown backing the programme.
He says, “Fans and local club members are the passionate heart of rugby league. The Nines is unique for having all the NRL teams together and it is great to see the teams getting out to Auckland clubs on their home turf.”
The annual visits by the teams is not only a huge hit for the clubs but the communities as a whole.
After hosting the 2014 Penrith Panthers, Tasha Tasmania, chair of the Māngere East Hawks club says, “Club membership for players new to rugby league skyrocketed by 30%, we gained new sponsors, our club was greatly promoted through advertising and the local community engagement and involvement we received for this one day.”
Cronulla Sharks five-eighth Ben Barba is in Auckland for the announcement of the participating clubs today at Māngere East Rugby League Club.
The St George-Illawarra Dragons’ visit to the Papakura Sea Eagles is on Friday 5 February. All other visits are on Thursday 4 February.
For more information on the Dick Smith NRL Auckland nines tournament, click here.