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Rugby league fans keen for NRL 9s

Last updated 05:00 20/12/2013
NRL club announcement

GRASSROOTS INITIATIVE: l-r, NZRL chairman Scott Carter, ARL Chairman Dene Biddlecombe , Mayor Len Brown and young league players Te Napi Waipouri, 12, pictured during the NRL Nines club announcement

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The NRL 9s can't come soon enough for the Bay Roskill Vikings rugby league club.

That's because it will have some of the biggest names in the NRL walk through its doors to meet and rub shoulders with members.

It all goes down on the afternoon of February 13, two days before the inaugural $2.25 million tournament kicks off at Eden Park.

Bay Roskill will host the Canberra Raiders from 6pm to 8pm at the Blockhouse Bay Reserve and Marist Saints will be visited by the New Zealand Warriors from 4pm to 6pm.

Sixteen clubs from across the greater Auckland region are holding similar sessions with other teams that same day. All applied to take part through Auckland Rugby League earlier this year and the exercise is designed to promote the sport at grass roots level and give youngsters the chance to meet their heroes.

Crowds of up to 2000 are expected at some venues.

"To have the stars of our game at local league grounds is huge for grass roots rugby league and I know the clubs want to provide a unique experience for each team," ARL chairman Dene Biddlecombe says.

The link-ups were made at the request of event organisers Duco Promotions and the NRL and were facilitated by Auckland Rugby League.

The schedule was announced on Monday by mayor Len Brown.

"We hope a new generation of players will be inspired by the chance to meet and interact with their club's adopted NRL team." The NRL 9s will be played on February 15 and 16 at Eden Park and will feature all 16 NRL clubs and 256 star players competing for a slice of more than $2 million Australian prize money.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic development general manager Rachael Carrol 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.

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