Meet league heroes in Auckland next February

Rugby league fans will have the chance to meet their heroes in the heart of Auckland this February, at the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines Fan Day in Aotea Square.

On Friday 5 February, Auckland will welcome back all 288+ NRL Auckland Nines players in a day packed with a free fan-friendly, family-friendly activities.

The NRL Auckland Nines Fan Day takes place the day before Auckland’s biggest summer event, the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines tournament, kicks off at Eden Park.

Rugby league will take over Aotea Square from 10am to 4pm with a host of activities where fans can meet the NRL stars, including signing sessions and selfies. There will be onstage interviews with NRL Nines team captains, and an NRL members’ lounge with exclusive access for members of all NRL clubs who have travelled to Auckland for the Nines.

There will also be opportunities to buy your favourite NRL team merchandise, ready for getting it autographed by one of the players.

Rugby league legend Mal Meninga says events like the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines Fan Day and the Club Programme are important to the players.

“Whatever form of sport you play, you have to be in touch with the fans, with the community, with the kids who play the sport. Fan days are about the people who make the sport happen – they buy the tickets, put their bums on seats, bring the sport to life. It’s important to stay in touch with the fans.”

The Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines Fan Day will follow on from the Club Programme, on Thursday 4 February, when 16 local Auckland rugby league clubs will host visits from the 16 NRL teams. The club events are open and free to the public.

The local clubs are throughout the Auckland region, from the Hibiscus Coast Raiders and Ranui’s Waitemata Seagulls, to the Papakura Sea Eagles and Otara Scorpions. The 16 chosen clubs will also receive a $2000 equipment package.

“Kids who play the sport need to be able to meet their heroes,” says Mal Meninga. “Days like this are what make you human.”

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines Fan Day is a chance to give a warm Auckland welcome to the 288+ NRL players here for the tournament.

“The Fan Day is a home-grown event that provides a unique opportunity for supporters to see all 16 NRL teams in one place, at one time. And whether you’re new to the game or a die-hard fan, the atmosphere is unrivalled.”

Duco Events Chief Executive Martin Snedden says part of the ongoing success of the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines is the excitement in the lead-up to Auckland’s greatest weekend.

“Auckland really turns it on for the NRL Auckland Nines. Events like the Fan Day create a buzz in the city, and New Zealand and overseas fans get to meet their rugby league heroes – along with some of the exciting new players who will emerge as key playmakers over the weekend. This year we saw Tui Lolohea and Solomone Kata from the Warriors as stand-out players at the Nines, as well as Jack Bird from the Sharks, who had a great tournament and went on to win the NRL Rookie of the year.”

Downer becomes 2016 NRL Auckland Nines naming rights sponsor

The NRL Auckland Nines event received a huge boost today with leading engineering and infrastructure group Downer taking over as the 2016 Nines naming rights sponsor.

Duco Events said the new partnership would go a long way to ensuring next month’s event is a major success.

Downer agreed to take over the top sponsorship role following the end of Duco’s partnership with electronics retailer, Dick Smith.

The multi-award winning tournament will now be known as the Downer NRL Auckland Nines and will be played on February 6 and 7 at Eden Park.

Downer has a long history in both Australia and New Zealand, dating back more than a century, and is now a Top-100 company on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Downer provides comprehensive services to customers in markets including transport, rail, mining, utilities, technology and communications, and engineering, construction and maintenance. Downer employs about 20,000 people and operates primarily in Australia and New Zealand but also in the Asia-Pacific region, South America and Southern Africa.

Martin Snedden Duco Events Chief Executive, in announcing the sponsorship agreement, said: “It is tremendous to be in a position today to announce Downer as the 2016 Nines naming rights sponsor.

“Being a highly respected and successful business throughout both Australia and New Zealand, they are a great fit with the Nines.”

Mr Snedden said a lot of hard work had occurred over the last few days to put Duco and Downer into a position to make today’s announcement.

“The teams from both Duco and Downer have worked together quickly and co-operatively within a very tight deadline to reach agreement on how our relationship for an event which is now less than three weeks away can work,” he said.

“The NRL, ATEED and our other Nines event partners have given Duco great support during this time”.

The Chief Executive of Downer, Grant Fenn, said he was thrilled with the partnership.

“Downer is delighted to be associated with this great event over the Waitangi weekend,” he said.

“We have a proud history and extensive operations in both Australia and New Zealand. It’s sure to be a great weekend of footy.”

NRL Chief Commercial Officer, Michael Brown said the Downer sponsorship was a boost for the Nines on the eve of the 2016 tournament.

“The Nines has already become a great way to kick off the Rugby League season so it is important to have a prestigious naming rights sponsor,” he said.

“We are delighted that a company with a brand like Downer has come on board at short notice. It is a real vote of confidence in the Nines.”

Auckland Tourism Events Economic Development (ATEED) Chief Executive Brett O’Riley had added his support today for the new sponsorship appointment.

“This is great news for the NRL Auckland Nines, and the speed with which Duco Events has secured Downer as a new naming rights sponsor for the 2016 tournament is a testament to the popularity and strength of the event,” Mr O’Riley said.

“It is also good to see another company with such a strong New Zealand history and presence, and close Trans-Tasman links, come into the Nines family of sponsors.”

In the space of just two years, the Nines has earned a reputation as an event where the stars turn up to play and has been a landmark event on the Auckland landscape.

Benji Marshall, Kieran Foran, Josh Dugan and Daly Cherry-Evans all competed at the Nines last year, while expectation has further increased on the Warriors in 2016 following the recent signings of Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Kangaroos and Maroons star Billy Slater has signaled he will make his Nines debut at this year’s event, while Shaun Johnson is also targeting the 2016 tournament for his comeback from injury.

Organisers are again predicting a bumper Eden Park crowd with tickets starting from NZ$69 still available.

DCL6461 NRL9_965x193h-email banner_v2_HR_2

For more information please contact: Martin Snedden 027 292 2008

Downer NRL Auckland Nines Facts:

2 day tickets from $69
Children half price (most categories)
All 16 NRL Clubs together in Auckland
288 + star players
Nearly NZ$2.6 million dollars prize money
Club star players contractually guaranteed to play
Family friendly

Superstars to kick for charity at Downer NRL Auckland Nines

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns, three-time Golden Boot winner Johnathan Thurston, Superboot Daryl Halligan and former All Black and Blues rugby star Carlos Spencer will go head-to-head in the Beko Legends Kick-Off charity goal kicking challenge at the Downer NRL Auckland Nines in February.

The quartet of goal kicking champions will put their reputations on the line in a bid to earn cash for the tournament’s official charity The Rising Foundation – an organisation that teaches leadership and life skills to over 500 at risk young Aucklanders – with up to $20,000 on the line thanks to global appliance manufacturer Beko.

The unique event pits three of rugby league’s greatest points scorers against a man who ruled Eden Park for a decade.

Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns’ 2176 points for the Newcastle Knights ranks him second on the NRL’s all-time scorers list, two places ahead of former Bulldogs sharpshooter Halligan (2034). Thurston (1794 points) sits ninth on the all-time list and second amongst active players – just four points behind Cameron Smith. Completing the line-up of sharpshooters and carrying the flag for rugby union is Spencer – a man who notched over 500 points for Auckland in the NPC, over 600 points for the Blues in Super Rugby and 291 points for the All Blacks in 35 tests.

Johns said he was relishing the chance to have some fun while supporting a great cause.

“I am really looking forward to it,” he said. “With goal kicking you can have a laugh about it, but I don’t think it has ever been done before where you have some of the greatest points scorers and goal kickers in history shooting it out. It’s really exciting. I think the crowd will get right into it and it will be pretty special. “I’m honoured to be a part of it really. And I think it’s sensational that the money goes to charity. It’s a great cause. Let’s hope we can kick some goals and raise some money for them.” There is a sweetener for the contestants, with the winner picking up a $2,000 home appliance package from sponsors Beko. The company will also donate $700 for each successful kick to The Rising Foundation.

Rugby league’s premier kicking coach Halligan will be under extra pressure as he juggles his duties as a television commentator at the tournament. “I can just sense Vossy [fellow commentator Andrew Voss] or Greg Alexander or the guys just carving me up,” he said. “If I don’t do any good I’ll pretend to head upstairs to the commentary box but I might just leave the stadium.”

Thurston, who holds the all-time record for most State of Origin points and is the reigning Golden Boot (awarded to the game’s best player) and Clive Churchill medal holder (awarded to the man of the match in the NRL grand final), will be showcasing his skills at the Auckland NRL Nines for the first time.

The event will also include one lucky competition winner, who will also walk away with a $3,000 appliance package thanks to Beko a long with the once in a life-time opportunity to pit their skills against four kicking legends. It is scheduled to take place before the final on day two.

BEKO LEGENDS KICK-OFF

WHEN: Just prior to the Downer NRL Auckland Nines final on Sunday, February 7.

FEATURING:

Andrew Johns: Rugby league Immortal and second highest points scorer in NRL history.

Johnathan Thurston: Second among active players with 1794 points. Holds record for most State of Origin Points in history.

Daryl Halligan: Ace goal kicker and goal kicking coach. Fourth highest points scorer in NRL history.

Carlos Spencer: Over 500 points for Auckland in the NPC and over 600 for the Blues in Super Rugby, to go with 291 points for the All Blacks in 35 tests. Made Eden Park his back yard for over a decade.

Plus one lucky domestic kicker will get the opportunity to participate in this kick-off. The search for the next big kicking star will take place via Downer NRL Auckland Nines social media channels.

RULES:

SIX KICKS EACH. $700 PER SUCCESSFUL KICK DONATED FROM BEKO TO
‘THE RISING FOUNDATION’ TO A MAXIMUM OF $20,000

Shot-clock counts down 90 seconds

KICK 1: 30 METRES OUT IN FRONT – 1 POINT

KICK 2: 20 METRES OUT, 10 METRES IN FROM LEFT SIDELINE – 2 POINTS

KICK 3: 20 METRE LINE, RIGHT ON LEFT SIDELINE – 3 POINTS

KICK 4: 20 METRES OUT, 10 METRES IN FROM RIGHT SIDELINE – 2 POINTS

KICK 5: 20 METRE LINE, RIGHT ON RIGHT SIDELINE – 3 POINTS

KICK 6: 40 METRES OUT, ON SIDELINE, OR HALF WAY, RIGHT IN FRONT – 5 POINTS

JOKER – Each player has the opportunity to play the joker to double their points on that kick. There is a twist!

THE WINNING LEGEND WINS A BEKO HOME APPLIANCE PACKAGE
Choice of a kitchen or laundry package – to the value of $2,000

For further information contact:
Glenn Jackson, NRL + 61 402 048 868 | Carlena Limmer, Duco Events +64 21 930480

Downer NRL AUCKLAND NINES

All 16 NRL Clubs together in Auckland
Featuring 288+ star players
31 action packed games
9 players per team, 9 minute halves
NZ $2.6 million dollars + in prize money
3-test women’s series between Kiwi Ferns and Jillaroos
Over 90,000 fans expected over February 6 and 7
2 x day tickets from $69
Tickets on sale at www.ticketek.co.nz/nines

Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/NRLAKL9s | Twitter @NRLAKL9s | Instagram NRLAKL9S

Beko

Leading global appliance manufacturer with 440 million customers across 100 countries
a BEKO branded product is sold every two seconds worldwide
1 brand UK
2 brand Europe
European manufactured (Turkey)
Authorised retailers NZ-wide
Visit beko.co.nz or www.beko.com.auto find the nearest retailer to you

The Rising Foundation

Charity working with at risk youth across South Auckland
Delivers leadership and life skills programmes to over 500 young people at schools across rugby league’s heartland
Official Charity of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines, with over $77,000 raised over the last two years
$700 from every successful kick in the Beko Legends Kick will be donated by Beko to The Rising Foundation
$2.50 from every official NRL Nines programme sold during the tournament also goes directly to the Foundation

Downer secures NRL Auckland Nines naming rights sponsorship for 2017 and 2018

Leading Australasian engineering and infrastructure group Downer has been secured as Downer NRL Auckland Nines naming rights sponsor for 2017 and 2018. The Chief Executive of Duco Events, Martin Snedden, said this was terrific news for the event as it heads into its fourth and fifth years. “Downer loved the experience they had with the event in February this year and we are thrilled to partner with them once again,” Mr Snedden said. “To have Downer commit for another two years is brilliant.”

The first three editions of Auckland’s showpiece summer event have attracted a total in stadia audience of 247,840 people, and a television audience of 1.4 million. The Chief Executive Officer of Downer, Grant Fenn, said he was delighted that Downer was continuing its support for a great tournament and the National Rugby League.

“The Downer NRL Auckland Nines is a wonderful event that features exciting rugby league on the field and a fantastic atmosphere over the whole weekend,” he said. “The people of Auckland have enthusiastically embraced the tournament and all rugby league fans are looking forward to another two days of outstanding entertainment.” Downer employed about 19,000 people, mostly in Australia and New Zealand, and had extensive operations in both countries, he said.

A Top-100 company on the Australian Securities Exchange, Downer’s history in Australia and New Zealand dates back more than a century. Downer provides comprehensive services to customers in markets including transport services, rail, mining, utilities, technology and communications, and engineering, construction and maintenance.

NRL’s Chief of Commercial Michael Brown said that Downer have been a great supporter of the NRL through this year’s Nines as well as the recent Australia-New Zealand test match. “It is particularly pleasing to see a strong brand like Downer supporting rugby league and it will be wonderful to have them back on board for the Nines for the next two years,” Mr Brown said.

The multi-award winning tournament will continue to be known as the Downer NRL Auckland Nines. “Being a highly respected and successful business throughout both Australia and New Zealand, they are a great fit with the Nines,” Mr Snedden said. The tournament dates and full details of the 2017 event were expected to be confirmed during the coming weeks, he said. “We are currently confirming some exciting new developments to the 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines tournament which the fans will really love.”

Brett O’Riley, Chief Executive of Auckland Tourism, Events Economic Development, which invests in the Nines on behalf of Auckland Council, said it was great to see Downer stepping up to support the tournament again.“It is fitting that such a popular, home-grown event will have a naming sponsor that is part of the fabric of Auckland and the region’s changing form – a company which is a major local employer and one of Auckland’s Youth Employment Pledge partners,” Mr O’Riley said.

For more information please contact:
Craig Stanaway ph +64 21 746-045

Downer NRL Auckland Nines:

All 16 NRL Clubs together in Auckland
288 + star players
Nearly NZ$2.6 million dollars prize money
Club star players contractually guaranteed to play
Family friendly
Recognition for Downer NRL Auckland Nines:

2016 Sports Business – Ultimate Medium Sports City Award
2015 NZAEP Best NZ Owned Major
2014 Sport NZ Innovation and Excellence
2014 Sports Business – Ultimate Sports City Award
2014 Sports Business – Best Home-grown Major Sporting Event

NRL stars to light up Auckland again at the Downer NRL Auckland Nines

Eden Park is once again the place to be over Waitangi Weekend, with the fourth edition of the spectacular Downer NRL Auckland Nines confirmed for Saturday February 4 and Sunday February 5, 2017.

A host of NRL stars – 49 Kangaroos; 46 Kiwis; 46 State of Origin; 16 Fijians; 6 English; 28 Samoans; and 23 Tongan reps – have graced the NRL Nines over its first three years, and that parade is set to continue in 2017.

“The Downer NRL Auckland Nines has hosted the game’s most notable players – Shaun Johnson, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen, Semi Radradra, Benji Marshall, Darius Boyd, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Greg Bird, and Robbie Farah – to name but a few,” Duco Events chief executive Martin Snedden said.

“The NRL Nines really is the place where the game’s great players come together as one – and the 2017 tournament promises to be even more star-studded than ever,” Snedden said.

Having guided his team on a thrilling run to the final in 2016, Warriors superstar Shaun Johnson has set his sights on going one better in 2017.

“I love the Nines,” Johnson said. “It’s such an awesome way to open the year and something I really look forward to and get excited about.

“After all the work you’ve done in the preseason it’s a really good opportunity to break away and have some fun with so many great players all together in Auckland at the same time.

“The response from the fans is always sensational, too. You can all get dressed up and take your family, friends or whatever.

“For us at the Warriors, we’d love to go one better next year. We were all disappointed that we couldn’t get the final result this year but it was a massive improvement for us and we definitely took a few steps forward.”

NRL chief execuitve Todd Greenberg said the Downer NRL Nines would once again ensure NRL season launched in spectacular style.

“Every year the level of entertainment on offer at the NRL Nines goes up another notch,” Mr Greenberg said. “It’s a great way for the stars of our game to connect with fans, showcase their skills and provide a taste of the thrilling action our game produces year-in year-out.”

Major sponsor Downer is right behind the event again in 2017, the company’s chief executive Grant Fenn says.

“This weekend is all about the great Trans-Tasman relationship between Australia and New Zealand,” Fenn said. “Success on the field is all about people working together and at Downer relationships are at the heart of how we think and do business.The Downer team is right behind this event and we can’t wait to see a bit of friendly Kiwi Aussie rivalry both on the field and around our Downer network.”

“Downer has a long, proud history in New Zealand and Australia and we are delighted to support such a fantastic family event.”

Auckland mayor Len Brown is delighted the Downer NRL Nines will once again provide a feature attraction for the city over the national holiday weekend.

“Auckland is the place to be for Waitangi Weekend – it is going to be huge, with all the unmissable, edge-of-your-seat action of the Nines on Saturday and Sunday, Western Springs rocking to Guns N’ Roses on Saturday night, and the great Waitangi Day events on Monday. What a weekend!”

The annual tournament continued to deliver a strong return for Aucklanders, ATEED Chief Executive Brett O’Riley said.

“The NRL Auckland Nines has generated more than $20 million for the local Auckland economy in the past three years, bringing tens of thousands of domestic and international visitors here for the tournaments.

“It positions Auckland as an exciting destination for an unforgettable, action-packed Waitangi Weekend, attracting some of the greatest names in rugby league, delivering an unrivalled energy and atmosphere for both staunch league fans and newcomers alike.”

Tickets for the 2017 Downer NRL Nines are on sale from Thursday, October 6 through Ticketek.

2017 DOWNER NRL AUCKLAND NINES

Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 February, 2017

All 16 NRL clubs together in Auckland
Featuring 288+ star players
To date: 49 Kangaroos; 46 Kiwis players; 46 State of Origin; 16 Fijian; 6 English; 28 Samoan; 23 Tongan reps have appeared at the NRL Auckland Nines
31 action packed games
More speed! More tries! More fun!
9 players per team, 9 minute halves
NZ $2.6 million dollars + in prize money
Over 80,000 fans expected over 2 days
For further information, contact: Craig Stanaway +64 21 746 045

EVENT DETAILS

DATE: SAT 4 & SUN 5, FEBRUARY 2017
VENUE:EDEN PARK, AUCKLAND
GA TICKETS: On-sale on Thursday 6 October at Ticketek
CORPORATE HOSPITALITY PACKAGES:
On-sale now – contact Donna Churton. Phone: + 64 309-2400 or +64 27 545-5353
Email: donna@duco.co.nz
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL PACKAGES:
On-sale now from Sportsnet Holidays click here (or if print) sportsnetholidays.com/nines

Johnson looks to go one better at Nines

League fans can again plan to spend Waitangi Weekend at Eden Park next year, with the fourth edition of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines confirmed for February 4-5, 2017.

While the Warriors are still reeling from their recent disappointing NRL season finish, halfback Shaun Johnson hopes they can kick-start next year’s campaign by claiming an elusive piece of silverware.

After guiding his side through to the final against Parramatta this season, Johnson has his sights set on winning the title next year.

“For us at the Warriors, we’d love to go one better next year,” said Johnson.

“We were all disappointed that we couldn’t get the final result this year but it was a massive improvement for us and we definitely took a few steps forward.

“It’s such an awesome way to open the year and something I really look forward to and get excited about.”

A host of NRL stars – 49 Australian representatives, 46 Kiwis test players, 46 State of Origin players, 16 Fijian internationals, six England representatives, 28 Samoan representatives, and 23 Tongan internationals – have taken centre stage at the tournament during its first three years and that trend is set to continue next season.

Johnson said the event provides a unique chance for players from all 16 NRL clubs to get together and play competitively after a summer of pre-season training.

“It’s such an awesome way to open the year and something I really look forward to and get excited about,” said Johnson.

“After all the work you’ve done in the pre-season, it’s a really good opportunity to break away and have some fun with so many great players all together in Auckland at the same time.

“The response from the fans is always sensational, too.”

NRL Auckland Nines

• Saturday-Sunday, February 4-5, 2017.

• All 16 NRL clubs together in Auckland.

• Featuring 288 players.

• To date, 49 Australian, 46 New Zealand, 46 State of Origin, 16 Fijian, 6 English, 28 Samoan and 23 Tongan reps have appeared at the pre-season tournament.

• Thirty-one games.

• Nine players per team, nine minute halves.

• $2.6 million in prizemoney.

• More than 80,000 fans expected over the two days.

Article from the NZ Herald (Friday Sep 9, 2016) by David Skipwith
David Skipwith is the Herald’s rugby league reporter

Jarryd Hayne joins stellar line-up for 2017 Nines

Two-time Dally M player of the year and international cross-code sensation Jarryd Hayne will join Johnathan Thurston, Shaun Johnson and a massive line-up of rugby league superstars at the 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines, it can be confirmed today.

“I’ve been watching the Auckland Nines for a lot of years now and to know that I’m playing in it next year is exciting,” says Hayne.

“Coach [Neil Henry] has told me that I’m playing in the Auckland Nines. I’m looking forward to getting down there with the guys. I’m pumped to be a part of it.”

Rated the best player in the game in 2009 and again in 2014, Hayne made a stunning return to rugby league in 2016 after fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL for San Francisco 49ers.

He signed for the Gold Coast Titans and immediately showed he is still one of the game’s elite talents, helping to guide his new club into the NRL finals for the first time since 2010.

“The guys have told me of the experiences of being in Auckland for the big weekend and I’m looking forward to getting down there having fun and getting our hands on that trophy,” Hayne said. “And I’m also looking forward to seeing some of the best players in the world out there – Jonathan Thurston, Shaun Johnson and my skinny mate MVP from last year Corey Norman [Parramatta Eels].”

Gold Coast Titans CEO Graham Annesley confirmed Hayne would be in their line-up.

“Jarryd’s obviously a world class international player,” Annesley said. “Everyone knows what he’s done in the NRL in the past. He’s been off improving himself in the NFL – you know everyone doubted he had the ability to make it … but he did.

“He’s just a general all round great athlete. So to have him as part of the Nines, particularly playing for the Titans, it’s exciting for us and I think he’ll bring a lot of people through the turn-style.”

With Hayne on board, Annesley was confident the Titans would be contenders in Auckland in 2017.

“I’d like to think that we could give it a shake. We could certainly do with the prize money!

Jarryd will add a lot to the team in terms of the extra open space there is on the field and hopefully it will give us a good shot.”

Coach Neil Henry confirmed Hayne would be central to his plans as the Titans chase the coveted pre-season title.

“Jarryd’s been a fantastic acquisition for our team here on the Gold Coast,” said Henry.

“I think he’s really suited to playing Nines football. Barring injury, Jarryd will be one of the first players picked.

“He’ll get a bit more space out there and he carries the ball well. He tried his hand at Sevens to try and get over to the Olympics and he’ll be no stranger to playing that style of footy.”

Promising young halves Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey had also been earmarked for the tournament, Henry said.

Martin Snedden, the chief executive of Downer NRL Auckland Nines promoters Duco Events, said Hayne’s presence added to an already incredible line-up of stars who had committed to the 2017 event.

“Over its first three years the Downer NRL Auckland Nines has attracted a who’s who of the game’s greatest players,” Snedden said.

“And now we’ve got two of the all-time greats in Jarryd Hayne and Johnathan Thurston coming to showcase their skills in front of what will be another massive crowd.”

Snedden pointed to the remarkable number of elite players the event had attracted over its first three years.

“Fans of world class sport have had the chance to see the likes of Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen, Benji Marshall, Darius Boyd, Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, Greg Bird, Robbie Farah and the Burgess brothers light up Eden Park,” he said.

“To date 48 Australian internationals and 44 Kiwi test players and 45 State of Origin stars, together with a host of Pacific nations test players have appeared in the tournament, and that number will increase significantly in 2017.”

Grant Fenn, the chief executive of naming rights sponsor Downer, said: “We are looking forward to another wonderful weekend of exciting rugby league and outstanding entertainment in Auckland and I am sure tickets will sell quickly.”

NRL chief execuitve Todd Greenberg said the tournament would once again be a fitting way to kick the calendar season off. “Nines is a celebration of some of the best of Rugby League,” Mr Greenberg said.

“The weekend is all about the colour of our Clubs and our fans and the incredible athleticism of our players. I’m sure the 2017 version will once again be a rolling highlights reel.”

Tickets can be purchased now via ticketek at www.ticketek.co.nz/nines

EVENT DETAILS

DATE: SAT 4 & SUN 5, FEBRUARY 2017
VENUE: EDEN PARK, AUCKLAND
GA TICKETS: On-sale now at Ticketek www.ticketek.co.nz/nines
CORPORATE HOSPITALITY PACKAGES: On-sale now – contact Donna Churton
Phone: + 64 9 309-2400 or +64 27 545-5353 | Email: donna@duco.co.nz
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL PACKAGES:On-sale now from www.sportsnetholidays.com/nines

Nines club programme regional hosting hubs announced

Downer NRL Auckland Nines club programme regional hosting hubs announced.

Six Auckland rugby league clubs will host NRL teams and neighbouring clubs in February 2017 in the revamped Downer NRL Auckland Nines club programme.

Manurewa, Mangere East, East Coast Bays, Mt Albert, Pakuranga and Waitemata rugby league clubs will each host two to three NRL teams at public events in the lead-up to the Waitangi Weekend tournament.

The club programme is evolving after feedback from local clubs. In 2014 and 2016, 16 of Auckland’s rugby league clubs were selected to each host players from one NRL team.

In 2017, clubs were able to apply to be a local hosting hub, welcoming players the NRL teams at events where organisers will work with neighbouring clubs to share NRL star signing sessions, skills and drills sessions, and club registration drives.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) runs the club programme in partnership with the NRL, NZ Rugby League and Duco Events.

ATEED Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says changes to the club programme will allow more rugby league fans and players to get up close to their league heroes.

“Auckland clubs asked how more of them could be involved in 2017, so we reconfigured the programme to give all clubs that want to be involved the opportunity to work together.

“With two or three NRL teams visiting each hosting hub, the events can be longer, with more NRL players connecting with grassroots fans and players, particularly the next generation of players.”

Nearly 9,000 people attended the club visits in 2016, and Auckland-based clubs signed up more than 600 new members.

NZRL Counties Manukau Zone General Manager Kasey King says it is exciting that the club programme is returning.

“This opportunity not only gives rugby league people, but anyone interested in sport, the chance to see some of the world’s best players and officials in their own backyard. For many people, this will serve a life-long memory.

“This is truly rugby league’s contribution to helping build stronger communities, and it’s just one part of what makes the Downer NRL Auckland Nines such a great event.”

2017 Downer NRL Auckland club programme visits

Thursday 2 February, 5 – 7.45pm: Mountford Park, Manurewa.
Hosted by Manurewa Marlins

  • 5:00pm – South Sydney Rabbitohs
  • 6:15pm – Paramatta Eels
  • 6:45pm – Canberra Raiders


Thursday 2 February, 6 – 7.45pm, Walter Massey Park, Mangere.

Hosted by Mangere East Hawks

  • 6:15pm – Wests Tigers
  • 6:45pm – Gold Coast Titans
  • 6:45pm – Brisbane Broncos


Thursday 2 February, 5 – 8pm, Ti Rakau Park, Pakuranga.

Hosted by Pakuranga Jaguars

  • 5:00pm – Sydney Roosters
  • 6:30pm – Manly Sea Eagles
  • 7:15pm – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs


Thursday 2 February, 5 – 7.45pm, Ranui Domain, Ranui.

Hosted by Waitemata Seagulls

  • 5:15pm – Penrith Panthers
  • 6:00pm – Melbourne Storm
  • 6:45pm – Cronulla Sharks


Thursday 2 February, 5 – 7pm, Fowlds Park, Mt Albert.

Hosted by Mt Albert Rugby League Club

  • 5:00pm – North Queensland Cowboys
  • 6:00pm – Vodafone Warriors


Friday 3 February, 5 – 7pm, Freyberg Park, Browns Bay.

Hosted by East Coast Bays Rugby League Club

  • 5:00pm – St George-Illawarra Dragons
  • 5:30pm – Newcastle Knights

The 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines takes place on Saturday, 4 and Sunday, 5 February. This is the only rugby league event where fans can see all 16 NRL clubs over one weekend, featuring more than 288 star players in 31 action-packed games.

2017 Nines Tournament Draw Released

Waiheke Pool
Cronulla Sharks
Gold Coast Titans
Penrith Panthers
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Rangitoto Pool
Newcastle Knights
Wests Tigers
Brisbane Broncos
Melbourne Storm

Hunua Pool
Queensland Cowboys
Sydney Roosters
Canberra Raiders
South Sydney Rabbitohs

Piha Pool
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Parramatta Eels
Manly Sea Eagles
Vodafone Warriors

Roosters win 2017 Auckland Nines

The Roosters have survived an epic second-half comeback from the Panthers to hold on for a gripping 10-8 win to claim the Downer Auckland Nines trophy for the first time.

Down by 10 points at the interval, Penrith hit back with two second-half tries and had a chance to send the game into extra time like they did in the quarter-finals, but Darren Nicholls hooked his conversion attempt.

Connor Watson did his Player of the Tournament ambitions no harm with a pair of first-half try assists in another outstanding performance by the Roosters utility.

Penrith dodged a bullet early on when Joseph Manu was denied a blade of grass short by some desperate scramble defence.

They didn’t have to wait long to open their account though as tournament MVP Connor Watson threw a perfect cut-out pass to send Daniel Tupou over in just the third minute.

Watson showed he was equally adept throwing right to left as he put a spiral pass onto the chest of semi-final hero Bernard Lewis who acrobatically touched down in the opposite corner to open up an early 10-point lead at the break.

Clearly unperturbed by the half-time scoreline, the Panthers slashed the deficit to six points when Malakai Watene-Zelezniak dived over to give his side some hope with seven minutes left to play.

Manu should have steadied the ship for the Tricolours but undid some fleet-footed brilliance by dropping the ball in the process of scoring to let the Panthers off the hook.

That missed opportunity gave the Panthers a sniff, and with one minute left on the clock, the incredibly-talented Nathan Cleary produced a show-and-go in his own half that Johnathan Thurston would have been proud of to race 60 metres to bring his side within two points.

It was down to Darren Nicholls’s right boot to tie up the game and send it to extra-time, but his last-gasp shot sailed wide to hand the Roosters their third heart-stopping win in a row.

Roosters 10 (Daniel Tupou, Bernard Lewis tries; 1 goal) def. Panthers 8 (Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Nathan Cleary tries). Half-time: 10-0.

This article first appeared on NRL.COM
Read more at http://www.roosters.com.au/news/2017/02/05/roosters_win_2017_au.html#lqVc3qe4hbMBVgoL.99

Credit: Martin Gabor ‌, National Correspondent , NRL.com