Duco Events has deflected the most recent attack from rugby league identity Phil Gould on next month's NRL Auckland Nines.

The former New South Wales and NRL-premiership winning coach, now Penrith Panthers general manager, used his popular Twitter Q&A to underline his opposition to the pre-season tournament at Eden Park.

Gould claims NRL players risk serious injury by playing the tournament, which is just a money-making venture for "outside promoters", an obvious reference to promoters Duco.

But Duco director David Higgins has fired back.


"Gould has been quite consistent over the years," he says. "In any sporting arena, there are people who like change and innovation, and people who like things the stay the same.
"Gould is the latter, while guys like Wayne Bennett like to see things grow and evolve."

While Gould lamented the lack of compensation to clubs for player injuries, Higgins pointed out that clubs were paid to contest the event and over the first three years, injury rates have been no higher than other pre-season fixtures.

"This is a joint venture between the NRL and Duco, so the implication of some kind of privateering is ridiculous," says Higgins.

"The NRL actually did a piece of analysis to look at the number and nature of injuries compared with other pre-season games, and found no real difference."

This year's NRL Auckland Nines is scheduled for February 4/5.