The promoter of the Auckland Nines rugby league tournament is slapping himself on the back this morning.

The third edition of the event has been playing to packed houses at Eden Park, and it's becoming a major event on New Zealand's sporting calendar.

Attendance and TV ratings are both up.

Duco events head Dean Lonergan said critics who've complained it hasn't been as exciting as last year must have rocks in their heads.


"Absolutely wonderful, the Auckland crowds were," Lonergan told Chris Lynch on Newstalk ZB. "We've had a record number of Australian tourists come over for it, mate at the end of the day we couldn't be happier with the tournament."

League commentator Greg Alexander said it's been less exciting and drawn smaller crowds than it did in its first two years.

Lonergan was typically robust in his defence of the event, calling Alexander a clown, and said he's had praise from the NRL for the way the Nines was run.

"To say that it wasn't as exciting as the first two years is a joke, without doubt this was the best tournament we've ever had from an entertainment point of view."