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All 16 NRL clubs will blitz 16 local clubs in a trailblazing Auckland Rugby League community initiative in the lead-up to the inaugural NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on February 15-16 next year. Photo: Photosport

Newly-elected Auckland Rugby League chairman Dene Biddlecombe announced today that each NRL club would be aligned with an Auckland club to host community events on either February 12 or 13.

Biddlecombe said an official announcement about which NRL clubs would visit which ARL clubs would be made at an event hosted by Aucklands mayor Len Brown on Monday, December 16.

All of the Auckland Rugby League clubs involved are absolutely thrilled to be hosting these visits from the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines teams, said Biddlecombe.

We are very grateful to (promoter) Duco Events, Auckland Council, ATEED (Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development) and the NRL for including this in what will be a very busy schedule for the teams while they are in Auckland.

To have the stars of our game at local league grounds is huge for grass roots rugby league and I know all the clubs will want to provide a unique experience for each team.

Duco, Auckland Council, ATEED and the NRL have said right from the start that the Dick Smith Auckland NRL Nines is not just about a two-day event. It is about promoting the sport and encouraging our young people to sign up with their local clubs.

This is the first year of a five-year contract for the Nines in Auckland and the Auckland Rugby League will ensure it makes the most of this wonderful opportunity.

Rachael Carroll, general manager destination and marketing ATEED, said the NRL Auckland Nines would drive huge economic benefits for the city as well as providing Eden Park with one of its biggest events in a year when the Vodafone Warriors will also play three home games there during the 2014 NRL season.

The Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines will become an economic anchor over time and bring legacy benefits to Auckland and New Zealand by way of rugby league development, she said.

This will include engagement with youth, growing the code through participation and high performance and better engagement with the sport and a commitment to work with the NRL, the Vodafone Warriors and New Zealand Rugby League to attract more major rugby league events to Auckland.

Biddlecombe said planning was well-advanced for the ARLs historic community events.

Its a first having all 16 NRL clubs and more than 250 of the games best players in New Zealand at the same time making it arguably the biggest single sporting event hosted in Auckland since the 1990 Commonwealth Games. While Rugby World Cup 2011 and crickets 1992 World Cup featured numerous games at Eden Park, they werent staged solely in Auckland nor were all teams in the city at the same stage.

Biddlecombe said everyone from school children to passionate rugby league fans would be able to meet the games stars at one of the 16 Auckland clubs involved just days before NRL Auckland Nines starts.

The Auckland clubs involved in the initiative are: Bay Roskill, Ellerslie, Glenfield, Glenora, Hibiscus Coast, Mangere East, Manukau, Manurewa, Marist, Otahuhu, Otara, Pakuranga, Papatoetoe, Point Chevalier, Richmond and Te Atatu.

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