Warriors star Shaun Johnson and North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston both believe the Nines would be more successful if the tournament was moved out of Auckland.

The pair are the two highest profile NRL players to join a chorus of opinion wanting the Nines to find a new lease of life in a different city.

Both players, together with Gold Coast Titans star Jarryd Hayne, were used as ambassadors to promote the event but say it has done its dash in Auckland.

Johnson, who has worn the crown as Nines King over the last four years, believes the event could be re-energised if it was rotated through different cities and return to Auckland in due course.


"I think it is time to move it on and create that buzz again to another city," Johnson told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.

"It definitely has to come back to Auckland though. You can't just take it away and play it in Brisbane or Melbourne for five years.

"You've got to be able to rotate it and know if you're in Auckland or New Zealand that the Nines will be back in a few years."

Having made his first appearance at the Nines, Thurston was glowing in his praise for the concept and the weekend's festivities, but slammed the poor crowd turnout.

Speaking after the Cowboys upset 25-12 quarter final loss to Melbourne, Thurston felt Auckland fans don't deserve to have the Nines in their own backyard if they weren't going to support the event.

The Kangaroos and Queensland playmaker suggested the NRL could get greater benefit by using the tournament to break new ground.

"It's a great way to kick off the year, playing in the Nines," said Thurston. "(But) I'm pretty disappointed at the turn-out of the crowd.

"If that's the type of crowd that's going to show up I reckon we should be taking it elsewhere.

"Maybe even Asia, get over there for a week and try and grow the game.

"You can see it's a great spectacle and if it's going get a turnout like this then let's take it elsewhere.

"It's a great weekend. The fans love it, the players really enjoy it.

"It's only my first experience. I had a lot of fun. We got beaten by a better side today so that's the way footy goes.

"But I think we can grow it elsewhere."

Johnson referenced the decline of the Wellington Sevens as a warning sign that the Nines should depart Auckland before punters grow tired of it.

"It's sad what's happened with the Sevens," he said.

"When it (events) fall short it's really sad. Where we are at the moment, the crowd obviously was a little down on what it was last year.

"For me it's still a great weekend. The weather has been great, the footy's been played at a high standard, and you've got some of the best players in the game come over again for it."