The NRL Magic Round could hit Auckland one day, although broadcasting arrangements would be the greatest stumbling block.

The inaugural eight-game extravaganza in Brisbane last weekend was a big success and is likely to become a permanent fixture on the league calendar.

Almost 135,000 fans attended across the four days at Suncorp Stadium and around a quarter of them travelled from outside Queensland.

The event generated an estimated $20 million for the Brisbane economy, which represents a substantial dividend on investment, as local government contributed $3 million towards the weekend.


Magic Round is locked in to return to the Queensland capital next year, with a further option for 2021, contingent on club and broadcaster support.

However, the New South Wales government has already expressed interest in hosting the event, while Perth and Melbourne are seen as other possibilities.

The NRL will favour rotating between cities to ensure the event remains fresh and relevant.

So could Auckland one day host all 16 teams in eight games spread across three days?

The appetite is certainly there, as most Kiwis support a second NRL side along with the Warriors. The city could also count on significant inbound travellers from around New Zealand and across the Tasman.

And the experience garnered from the NRL Nines during 2014-17 built a strong relationship with the NRL and also demonstrated Auckland's logistical capabilities.

"We have always remained open-minded about further rugby league events in Auckland, and the success of last year's NRL double header at Mt Smart was an example of the innovation in that space," said Stuart Turner, head of major events at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed).

Turner emphasised they were focused on the 2019 schedule, which includes the Kiwis clash with Tonga next month at Mt Smart and the triple header at Eden Park in November.


Gaining agreement on kickoff times would be the greatest hurdle for Auckland. The weekly NRL model includes Friday and Saturday games at 8pm and 7.30pm (Australian time) respectively, which would be too late for a stadium audience here, as well as the players.

The Magic round has been long established in the Northern Hemisphere but exceeded expectations in its first iteration Downunder. Aside from Australia and New Zealand, fans travelled from league strongholds in England for the event, as well as France, Papua New Guinea and the United States.

There was a festival air throughout, and the sight of three North Sydney Bears fans being wildly cheered as they walked down Caxton St summed up the occasion.

Jerseys from all 16 NRL teams were spotted, as well as echoes of the past with the Western Suburbs Magpies, Newtown Jets, Illawarra Steelers and South Queensland Crushers. The precinct around Suncorp Stadium and the Brisbane CBD was the perfect set-up for a sporting festival.

Most importantly, the action inside the arena was riveting, with numerous compelling storylines.

That should ensure the long-term future of the concept, in contrast to the Nines, which ultimately dived in popularity because there was nothing riding on the matches.