Robinson supports Auckland Nines going wider

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 10:01 19/02/2014

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Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has thrown his support behind making the Auckland Nines an international rugby league competition featuring Super League teams.

The Roosters will host Wigan at Allianz Stadium in what will be the first World Club Challenge (WCC) fixture between the NRL and Super League premiers on Australian soil in 20 years.

Clubs in England are keen to grow the WCC in to a six-team competition with three teams from each league, who then play in a round-robin-style format, alternating the competition annually between Australasia and Europe.

But privately there is reticence from the NRL and its clubs to adopt the idea.

The inaugural Nines were a roaring success with more than the 80,000 tickets sold, ensuring the tournament's here to stay.

This, coupled with the annual All Stars game, which was shelved this year due to the Rugby League World Cup and due to return in 2015, will add to an already crowded pre-season for players.

Robinson, who coached Super League club Catalans for two years before taking over at the Roosters, is a keen advocate of the world game and said inviting Super League teams to play in the Nines should be considered.

"The concept of the nines was unbelievable, it was a huge success," Robinson said.

"Having teams in the Super League in it would be great. Especially when it comes to expanding the knowledge of New Zealand and Australian fans about that competition.

"If we could have the top four teams come over and play it would be a great concept."

A fluent French speaker from his time spent as a player and coach in the country, Robinson knows first hand how much the game in Europe needs to be given the support and recognition from the southern hemisphere to help it survive and grow.

"What we need to realise down here is that the game in England and France is really important to our product," he said.

"The success of the World Cup did so much good for the game.

"Personally, because of the time I have spent in both leagues I would love to see it grow.

"We are in a really healthy place down here and we need to lend our support to Super League."

Wigan turned down the option of hosting the fixture to come to Australia and their coach Shuan Wane said he would relish the opportunity to appear in the Nines.

Wigan were preparing for Saturday's game in New Zealand last week and did ask to play in the Nines, but it wasn't possible because the draw had already been made.

"We'd love to have done it, we know it was spoken about and hopefully we can do it next year," Wane said.

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"It was a great spectacle and I really enjoyed it. If we can put a team in next year and then play the Club Challenge the week after that would be great."

- AAP

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