Auckland rugby league is set to receive a welcome funding boost of $2 million to improve and upgrade grassroots facilities.
A funding memorandum of understanding has been agreed on committing the National Rugby League and Carlaw Heritage Trust to provide $2 million over a three-year period to assist new and existing clubs to develop and improve local league facilities in the Auckland region.
A fund will be set up to improve the standard of grounds and facilities and the sustainability of local competitions, while helping to increase regular and ongoing participation opportunities in the sport.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the funding would provide continued benefit and support for league at all levels.
"This is an historic occasion and a wonderful opportunity to see significant progression of rugby league throughout the Auckland region," Greenberg said.
"Thousands of fans will turn out this weekend to support the Nines and most will be cheering for their local Warriors and Kiwi Ferns.
"We want to ensure that those local supporters " male and female of all ages " have the chance to enjoy and progress their rugby league aspirations and this funding will help achieve this."
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the proposed funding and said it would ensure the continued growth of league and benefit communities throughout Auckland.
"We have a passionate rugby league fan base in Auckland," said Goff.
"It is a great sport and plays a pivotal role in many communities. It's fantastic that the NRL and Carlaw Heritage Trust want to invest in its ongoing growth in our city.
"It's great that Auckland Council can bring events like the Nines to Auckland. However, it's just as important to ensure we drive participation from all age groups in sport and a major part is ensuring we provide quality facilities for our players.
"This funding will help give the next generation of professional rugby league players the platform to launch careers and grow the sport across the region."
The programme is expected to open in the first half of 2017.