15 Feb 2014

NRL Nines set to go global

7:27 am on 15 February 2014

English Super League sides are set to join the National Rugby League Auckland Nines next year.

The intense interest in the inaugural tournament could spawn a global event, after NRL boss Dave Smith revealed that Super League sides expressed an interest in playing this weekend.

Smith says they were turned down in order to best promote the Australian competition, but with the Wigan Warriors and Bradford keen to take part, the competition is set to be expanded next year - and could even include the Catalans Dragons of France.

Wigan have been in New Zealand in the lead-up to their World Cup Challenge clash with the Sydney Roosters next week and tournament organisers say they were stunned at the hype surrounded the shortform event.

Smith says he believes the event will get bigger and bigger, and the format has a lot of potential.

Before a ball has been kicked in anger, or a five point try scored, the NRL has declared the Auckland Nines a raging success.

A day before the start of the inaugural tournament, which is expected to $5 million into the local economy, you can't turn around in Auckland without being reminded about the sold-out Eden Park event.

Smith says the bold rugby league incursion into rugby union heartland has been embraced wholeheartedly by the New Zealand public.