3 Feb 2017

League boss casts doubts over Auckland Nines future

9:30 am on 3 February 2017

NRL boss Todd Greenberg says the Nines tournament "has a future" beyond the 2018 edition, but admits Auckland could lose it when its contract expires next year.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg. Photo: Photosport

Auckland is preparing to host the fourth instalment of the season-opening tournament this weekend.

However, questions surround the future of the two-day event, with many suggesting next year's event could be the last of its kind at Eden Park.

Greenberg confirmed the NRL would proceed with next year's tournament, despite the likelihood of top-line players pulling out due to World Cup commitments at the end of the year.

"Two things I'll say, one is we have a five-year contract here and we plan to honour that. The second thing I'd say is that Nines has a massive future inside rugby league," he said.

"Where we decide to play those games and when we decide those games are all things that are being considered right now. But Nines has a future.

"It has a future at the elite level, and it certainly has a future at the participation and grassroots level. We plan to grow it as best we can."

Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney are among the candidates set to put their hand up to host the event, with Auckland also to be considered.

With almost $2.5 million in prize money at stake, Greenberg said the financial rewards on offer were a massive boon for not only the governing body, but the game as well.

"It is a very healthy commercial venture for the game and the clubs," Greenberg said.

"Millions of dollars go back into grassroots footy through a legacy programme here in Auckland. But also our NRL clubs, they're all here taking a commercial return, as they should."