NRL players could miss the opening rounds of next season for offences committed in the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament.
The NRL is yet to finalise the set-up of the judicial system for the February 15-16 event at Eden Park, but players NRL football operations manager Nathan McGuirk said players who seriously transgress in the Nines face suspension from NRL games and/or the prospect of carry-over points.
"If a player transgresses within the Nines tournament they can potentially be suspended either within the Nines or further into the NRL competition for more serious misconduct,'' McGuirk said.
"For more serious misconduct - I wouldn't necessarily say a high tackle is a more serious misconduct - but the vast majority of things we hope will be dealt with within the tournament.''
All NRL teams are required to send 12 of their top 25 playing squad to the $2.6 million event but this latest development might result in some clubs baulking at sending their stars.
The NRL is likely to send one match review official and one panelist to Auckland to judicate on offences.
But given Greg McCallum has quit as NRL Match Review Commissioner with his role yet to be filled the judiciary system for the Nines remains in limbo.
"We're still developing our judiciary processes,'' McGuirk said.
"We're obviously going to have a minimised version of our judiciary process. It's got to be a very quick match review and a very quick judiciary hearing before the next game. But the same rules that apply in the NRL for player discipline will apply for the Nines.
"We haven't developed fully the actual rules of the Nines tournament in terms of the judiciary. That's something that will come closer to the tournament ... if it requires one of our judiciary panelists being over in Auckland then we will do it.
"The thing about the Nines and open free-flowing football is that it doesn't lend itself to serious misconduct actually occurring. That's why we have rules in place to deal with them if they occur.''