Auckland Nines: Stars spreading the league love at local clubs

By Steve Deane

Visits will give Auckland fans a chance to meet their heroes from the Nines teams.

Led by star new recruit Ben Barba and Queensland legend Sam Thaiday, the Broncos have named a strong side for the tournament. Photo / Getty Images
Led by star new recruit Ben Barba and Queensland legend Sam Thaiday, the Broncos have named a strong side for the tournament. Photo / Getty Images

Auckland league fans have a chance to meet their heroes at league clubs across the city today, with all 16 NRL clubs being hosted by a local counterpart.

Mayor Len Brown, NRL chief executive Dave Smith and former New Zealand Rugby League chief Jim Doyle will be joining the Brisbane Broncos for their visit to the Fox memorial champion Pt Chevalier Pirates (4.45pm-6.45pm).

Led by star new recruit Ben Barba and Queensland legend Sam Thaiday, the Broncos have named a strong side for the tournament.

Other drawcards will be a Melbourne Storm side boasting Kiwi stars Matt Duffie and Tohu Harris visiting the Manurewa club; local heroes the Warriors visiting Marist; the champion Roosters' visit to fellow chooks Te Atatu; Russell Crowe's Rabbitohs' trip to Glenfield; and Ivan Cleary's Penrith Panthers' visit to Mangere East.

Ever-popular Manly's visit to Richmond Rovers should also attract the fans.

Premiership-winning halfback Daly Cherry-Evans headlines a Sea Eagles side that have tempted club legend Steve Menzies out of retirement for the tournament.

The club visits are part of a "legacy" programme tied to Auckland Council's funding of the event over the next five years, according to Ateed general manager tourism and destination Rachael Carroll.

"It's very much about taking the event out to the community. We want to inspire young people, grow future players and have people engage with the game in the future in a whole range of ways, be that playing, refereeing or volunteering."

The central city will host the teams tomorrow for the official tournament launch at Aotea Square.

The event, which is free, starts at 12.15pm, after a captains' and coaches' breakfast at the Pullman Hotel.

Local league club visits

* Canberra Raiders at Bay Roskill (6pm-8pm)
* Newcastle Knights at Ellerslie (6pm-8pm)
* South Sydney Rabbitohs at Glenfield (5pm-7pm)
* North Queensland Cowboys at Glenora (4.20pm-6.20pm)
* Gold Coast Titans (split squad) at Hibiscus Coast (4pm-6pm)
* Penrith Panthers at Mangere East (5pm-7pm)
* Wests Tigers at Manukau (4.30pm-6.30pm)
* Melbourne Storm at Manurewa (4pm-6pm)
* Gold Coast Titans (split squad) at Northcote (4pm-6pm)
* Warriors at Marist (4pm-6pm)
* Cronulla Sharks at Otahuhu (4pm-6pm)
* St George Dragons at Otara (4.45pm-6.45pm)
* Canterbury Bulldogs at Pakuranga (6.30pm-8pm)
* Parramatta Eels at Papatoetoe (4.30pm-8pm)
* Brisbane Broncos at Pt Chevalier (4.45pm-6.45pm)
* Manly Sea Eagles at Richmond (5pm-7pm)
* Sydney Roosters at Te Atatu (5.30pm-7.30pm).

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