NRL STARS TO LIGHT UP AUCKLAND AGAIN AT THE DOWNER NRL AUCKLAND NINES
Eden Park is once again the place to be over Waitangi Weekend, with the fourth edition of the spectacular Downer NRL Auckland Nines confirmed for Saturday February 4 and Sunday February 5, 2017.
A host of NRL stars - 49 Kangaroos; 46 Kiwis; 46 State of Origin; 16 Fijians; 6 English; 28 Samoans; and 23 Tongan reps - have graced the NRL Nines over its first three years, and that parade is set to continue in 2017.
"The Downer NRL Auckland Nines has hosted the game's most notable players – Shaun Johnson, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen, Semi Radradra, Benji Marshall, Darius Boyd, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Greg Bird, and Robbie Farah - to name but a few," Duco Events chief executive Martin Snedden said.
"The NRL Nines really is the place where the game's great players come together as one - and the 2017 tournament promises to be even more star-studded than ever," Mr Snedden said.
Having guided his team on a thrilling run to the final in 2016, Warriors superstar Shaun Johnson has set his sights on going one better in 2017.
"I love the Nines," Johnson said.
"It's such an awesome way to open the year and something I really look forward to and get excited about.
"After all the work you've done in the preseason it's a really good opportunity to break away and have some fun with so many great players all together in Auckland at the same time.
"The response from the fans is always sensational, too. You can all get dressed up and take your family, friends or whatever.
"For us at the Warriors, we'd love to go one better next year. We were all disappointed that we couldn't get the final result this year but it was a massive improvement for us and we definitely took a few steps forward."
NRL chief execuitve Todd Greenberg said the Downer NRL Nines would once again ensure NRL season launched in spectacular style.
"Every year the level of entertainment on offer at the NRL Nines goes up another notch," Mr Greenberg said.
"It's a great way for the stars of our game to connect with fans, showcase their skills and provide a taste of the thrilling action our game produces year-in year-out."
Major sponsor Downer is right behind the event again in 2017, the company's chief executive Grant Fenn says.
"This weekend is all about the great Trans-Tasman relationship between Australia and New Zealand," Fenn said.
"Success on the field is all about people working together and at Downer relationships are at the heart of how we think and do business. The Downer team is right behind this event and we can't wait to see a bit of friendly Kiwi Aussie rivalry both on the field and around our Downer network."
"Downer has a long, proud history in New Zealand and Australia and we are delighted to support such a fantastic family event."
Auckland Mayor Len Brown is delighted the Downer NRL Nines will once again provide a feature attraction for the city over the national holiday weekend.
"Auckland is the place to be for Waitangi Weekend – it is going to be huge, with all the unmissable, edge-of-your-seat action of the Nines on Saturday and Sunday, Western Springs rocking to Guns N' Roses on Saturday night, and the great Waitangi Day events on Monday. What a weekend!"
The annual tournament continued to deliver a strong return for Aucklanders, ATEED Chief Executive Brett O'Riley said.
"The NRL Auckland Nines has generated more than $20 million for the local Auckland economy in the past three years, bringing tens of thousands of domestic and international visitors here for the tournaments.
"It positions Auckland as an exciting destination for an unforgettable, action-packed Waitangi Weekend, attracting some of the greatest names in rugby league, delivering an unrivalled energy and atmosphere for both staunch league fans and newcomers alike."
Tickets for the 2017 Downer NRL Nines are on sale from Thursday, October 6 through Ticketek.
2017 DOWNER NRL AUCKLAND NINES
Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 February, 2017
• All 16 NRL clubs together in Auckland
• Featuring 288+ star players
• To date: 49 Kangaroos; 46 Kiwis players; 46 State of Origin; 16 Fijian; 6 English; 28 Samoan; 23 Tongan reps have appeared at the NRL Auckland Nines
• 31 action packed games
• More speed! More tries! More fun!
• 9 players per team, 9 minute halves
• NZ $2.6 million dollars + in prize money
• Over 80,000 fans expected over 2 days
This article first appeared on NRL.COM