NRL: Warriors CEO happy for Nines to leave Auckland

By Alex McLeod

Warriors CEO Jim Doyle believes the NRL Nines needs to leave Auckland if its to remain sustainable. Photo / Getty Images.
Warriors CEO Jim Doyle believes the NRL Nines needs to leave Auckland if its to remain sustainable. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors CEO Jim Doyle has voiced his support for the NRL Nines to be shared around cities across Australasia on a yearly basis, saying he would be happy if Auckland lost the hosting rights of the tournament.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch, Doyle indicated he had always been supportive of the idea of sharing the pre-season tournament around a variety of venues.

"100 percent, that's, to me, always been the plan from day one. It was about establish[ing] it here because Duco and ATEED [Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development] obviously were the first ones to put their hands up and bring it to life.

"It was inevitable that something like this would sell out in its first year, it would be a little bit less in its second, a little bit less in its third, and if it was here for the next five, six, seven years in a row, it will end up, unfortunately, something like the Sevens in Wellington. But to spark it and keep it going, then it needs to go."

However, Doyle believed Auckland could still be involved in hosting the tournament in some capacity in the future if the idea of sharing the tournament's venue in cycles comes to fruition.

"ATEED should be discussing with the NRL, and potentially they get a deal with the NRL that they get it every third year for the next five or 15 years or whatever it is, so they have a cycle.

"Personally, if I was ATEED, I would be saying we'll happily not have next year, as long as you give us it in 2020, 2023 and 2026, and therefore don't worry about the conversation for next year, let's get some longevity... That's what I would be pushing for."

Doyle's comments come after former Panthers and Warriors star Greg Alexander made scathing comments regarding the Nines tournament.

Alexander addressed the issue of yesterday's low attendance at Eden Park, stating that fans turned up expecting to see the stars of the NRL, but were left witnessing depleted sides representing clubs who do not prioritise the tournament enough to field their top teams.

"The clubs need to change their thinking on the Nines," Alexander said.

"There was a quote in the paper today, and I thought it was funny, Ruben Wiki, who played yesterday, was talking about why it was important to have the Nines here, and he said 'well youngsters want to see their heroes play', but they're not getting to see their heroes play because the clubs aren't playing them.

"People want to see the best. You're not going to put up with second best, and that's what we've got here at the moment."

Alexander noted that with the Rugby League World Cup set to take place at the end of this year, clubs would become increasingly unlikely to want to play their top players at the Nines in 2018, considering they will have just come out of a tournament that would have finished just eight weeks earlier.

The former New South Wales State of Origin star believed rotating the venue of the Nines on a yearly basis would not do anything to change the squad selection mentality of participating clubs.

Alexander's sentiments echoes the comments made by Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher yesterday, who voiced his concern for the welfare of players participating in the Nines, as well as highlighting the lack of compensation for star players injured at the tournament as a key reason for the reluctance shown by NRL clubs to pick top players for the weekend-long event.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 26 Mar 2017 14:40:56 Processing Time: 354ms