The Auckland Nines tournament has been damned with very faint praise, and its future questioned, by one of league's finest and most influential former players.
Greg Alexander, a much-respected Fox Sports commentator, struggled to enthuse over the Eden Park tournament when interviewed by Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.
Alexander, a test six-test Kangaroo and Warriors original, was sceptical over whether the Nines would survive past the initial five year contract which runs until the 2018 season.
Alexander said: "I don't know and it's just my view...but I wonder if people have had enough of the nines. There was plenty of excitement around the first year...(but) I don't know if nines has got a long future. I'm still a bit undecided.
"Some games are a bit flat and it's a long day. As to predicting what will happen, I'm not sure what the NRL is thinking but my view is it might be a tired format by the time we get to five years."
"I'm not sure if they should play every year, or maybe split it up and play every second season."
Alexander listed some strong points, including the tournament giving fans a glimpse of new recruits and a preview of the upcoming season. But some teams brought below-par squads, and it was not treated as an elite event.
"I honestly don't think many clubs take it seriously. There is not much training done for the nines, and they don't really grasp what the nines are about," Alexander said.
"They take it seriously when they get here but in terms of planning and preparation it's tokenism.
"Players do get to showcase their skills and you only have to look at who have been the players of the tournaments (playmakers) like Adam Reynolds and Shaun Johnson. But for me, it's more about how it might affect the upcoming season."