2014 Rugby League Nines in Auckland
By W D Nicolson - October 31, 2013
|Official Auckland Nines Draw here|
And rightly so.
It'll make boatloads of cash and the fans will love it.
But will the big names take part?
Well really it doesn't matter a whole lot for the first couple of incarnations of the Tournament - because it is going to be a fantastic spectacle early on and taps into the pre-season buzz that starts to become palpable as January ends, so the February 15 kick-off at Eden Park in Auckland is just about perfect timing.
While the ARLC has had key players go on record saying they want to play in the tournament, the fact the majority of those same players are currently taking part in a World Cup tournament suggests the following official selection criteria will be used by many clubs and players to give their stars another week or two rest.
"The NRL’s 16 clubs have all guaranteed at least one top five player from each of the club’s salary cap. They will play in Auckland alongside at least 12 of each club’s top 25 salary capped players."
Of course that means that four of the top five earners at each club have a free pass to miss the Auckland Nines and while most will probably play, the fact the NRL decided to install this clause is a sign they've finally cottoned on to how selfish clubs are when it comes to protecting their playing assets. Which of course, makes total sense when your single focus as a club is a game in late September or early October - not a carnival of touch football in February.
Long term the concept needs the clubs buying in but the vast majority of players will not be short of enthusiasm for the concept as the game begins to bring back events that bring the fans and players together in a way that is hard to top outside of Origin and Finals footy.
As anyone who remembers the glory days of the World Sevens - the return of this kind of football in the pre-season is fair dinkum sensational!But to the games themselves - 9 minute halves, 2 minute changeovers and approximately 25 total minutes to finish every game per the schedule which over two days at Eden Park has a game every quarter of an hour.
It'll be a total footy fest kids and that's a huge tick for the ARLC/NRL and Rugby League in general.
In short - it's a winner.
But there is a slight glitch in the planning to date... as the group names offered up are either woefully understated (Yellow, Green, Blue and Red... seriously?) or indeed merely stop gaps to a better idea - as even the colours given that don't really make a lot of sense, otherwise wouldn't the Raiders would be in the Green Group, the Bulldogs in the Blue Group, Eels in the Yellow Group etc where possible?
Mind you, they did put the Dragons in the Red Group - so there's a win there and yes, we understand the groups are 'random' but that only lends to the logic behind the following idea we've come up with here on www.wdnicolson.com