The stars of the NRL are set to face-off at a nines
tournament at Eden Park in 2014, according to event promoter
While there are still a few stages to be negotiated, Lonergan
said he was 99 per cent sure it would go ahead and hopes to
have the agreement with the NRL and Auckland Council signed
off before Christmas.
Lonergan told Radio Sport this morning he wants to combine
the thrill of the Wellington Sevens with the big names of the
NRL and believes the event has the potential to be the
highlight of the New Zealand sporting calendar.
"The sevens is a fantastic event but the one thing it does
lack is stars we can all relate to," Lonergan said. "We think
it's going to be big. We're going to bring over the entire
The Wellington sevens brought an estimated $16 million into
the city during the 2010 tournament. Tickets for next year's
event sold out within 17 minutes.
NRL marketing director Paul Kind told Radio Sport the
tournament would involve all 16 clubs and most of their
"It would allow the teams to continue their pre-season and
January of 2014 is the date we are working towards," Kind
said. "My understanding is the games will last 15 minutes,
seven-and-a-half each way. You're talking fast and furious,
but bringing more of the rugby league style of play.
"You're still providing great entertainment in terms of high
scoring but also bringing in the element of defence under the
Kind said there is enthusiasm from the clubs about the
"We need to go back to our commission and update them
following our last round of chats and the plans are currently
back with the clubs' football operations coaching staff for
The financial rewards on offer are another incentive, with
some estimates of the annual prizemoney reaching $3m. The
event would not affect the existing pre-season schedule -
clubs would still have three allocated weekends for trial
matches - because it would run in late January, a week before
the All-Star weekend.
- By Steven Holloway of nzherald.co.nz