Young rugby league players across the greater Auckland region will get the chance to meet some of the game's superstars ahead of the much anticipated $2.25 million NRL Auckland Nines tournament at Eden Park on February 15-16.
Each of the 16 teams competing in the event will visit an Auckland Rugby League club as part of an unprecedented grass roots blitz designed to boost interest in the sport.
All but one of the appearances will take place on February 13 - the only exception being the Titans' journey to Hibiscus Coast a day prior.
Mayor Len Brown announced the plan during a press conference this week in Manukau - a league stronghold where six clubs are involved with the scheme.
"We hope a new generation of players will be inspired by the chance to interact with their club's adopted NRL team," he says.
"Meeting the stars coming for the tournament will provide youngsters with a buzz that will have long-lasting benefits in this historic rugby league strong-hold."
Up to 2000 people are expected to turn out for the various sessions across the city and ARL chairman Dene Biddlecombe says the mix of fans will be diverse.
"Everyone from school children to passionate rugby league fans will be able to meet their favourite stars just days before the February tournament.This is a brilliant opportunity."
The NRL 9s will feature 256 players competing for a slice of over $2 million Australian prize money.
Rachael Carrol, general manager of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic development says the event is huge.
"This will become and economic anchor over time and bring legacy benefits to Auckland and New Zealand by way of Rugby league development," she says.
Who's hosting who:
Point Chevalier Pirates, Brisbane Broncos, Walker Park Point Chevalier, 4.30-6.30pm Thursday, February 13
Bay Roskill Vikings, Canberra Raiders, Blockhouse Bay Reserve, Blockhouse Bay, 6.00-8.00pm,Thursday, February 13
Pakuranga Jaguars, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Ti Takau Park, Pakuranga, 6.30-8.00pm, Thursday, February 13
Otahuhu Leopards, Cronulla Sharks, Bert Henham Park, Mount Wellington, 4.00-6.00pm, Thursday, February 13
Hibiscus Coast Raiders, Gold Coast Titans, Stanmore Bay Park, Stanmore Bay, 4.00-6.00pm, Wednesday, February 12
Richmond Rovers, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Grey Lynn Park, Grey Lynn, 5.00-.700pm, Thursday, February 13
Manurewa Marlins, Melbourne Storm, Mountfort Park, Manurewa, 5.00-7.00pm, Thursday, February 13
Ellerslie Eagles, Newcastle Knights, Ellerslie Domain, Ellerslie, 6.00-8.00pm. Thursday, February 13
Glenora Bears, North Queensland Cowboys, Harold Moody Park, Glen Eden, 4.20-6.20pm, Thursday, February 13
Papatoetoe Panthers, Parramatta Eels, Kohuora Park, Papatoetoe, 4.30-6.30pm, Thursday, February 13
Mangere East Hawks, Penrith Panthers, Walter Massey Park, Mangere East, 5.00-7.00pm, Thursday, February 13
Glenfield Greyhounds, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sunnynook Park, Glenfield, 5.00-7.00pm, Thursday, February 13
Otara Scorpions, St George-Illawarra Dragons, Ngati Otara Park, Otara, 4.45-6.45pm, Thursday, February 13
Te Atatu Roosters, Sydney Roosters, Jack Colvin Park, Te Atatu, 5.30-7.30pm, Thursday, February 13
Marist Saints, Vodafone Warriors, Murray Halberg Park, Mount Albert, 4.00-6.00pm, Thursday, February 13
Manukau Magpies, Wests Tigers, Moyle Park, Mangere, 4.30-6.30pm, Thursday, February 13
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