Fullback Sam Tomkins helped the Vodafone Warriors light up the inaugural NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park in February. Image | www.photosport.co.nz

NRL NINES | Draw made

The Vodafone Warriors have again drawn the Canberra Raiders along with Wests Tigers and the Gold Coast Titans at today’s draw for the 2015 Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on January 31 and February 1.

The Raiders were one of Vodafone Warriors’ pool opponents at this year’s inaugural tournament along with the Manly Sea Eagles and eventual winners the North Queensland Cowboys.

The Cowboys have been drawn to meet the Melbourne Storm, the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The team pools were drawn today in Sydney by NRL, Jillaroo and Kiwi Fern players including Trent Merrin, Nathan Peats, Maddie Studdon and Sarina Fiso along with Dick Smith Electronics CEO Nick Abboud.

The NRL also announced that the current women’s Rugby League World Cup champions the Jillaroos will play three nine-a-side matches against New Zealand’s Kiwi Ferns at the 2015 event. 

The matches will be televised live on SKY Sport during the Nines broadcast.

“The spirit of the NRL Auckland Nines is to create an event that we can develop and grow and the decision to include the women’s teams was the next natural step,” said NRL football operations manager Nathan McGuirk.

“Their inclusion creates more games and provides longer breaks for all teams participating as well as showcasing some of the best female players in the world.”

Lovers of Auckland from around the world were given the unique opportunity to play a part in the 2015 tournament by choosing names for each of the four pools, with the most popular choices being made the pool names.

The public’s choices showcase the diversity of the Auckland region’s most iconic visitor destinations.

The public’s choices were:

  • Rangitoto – one of Auckland’s iconic landmarks
  • Waiheke – home to many of the region’s wineries
  • Piha – the rugged West Coast beach just outside Auckland
  • Hunua – after the Hunua Ranges, one of the region’s popular bush areas

Draw |

Rangitoto Pool | Eels, Sea-Eagles, Knights, Dragons

Waiheke Pool | Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Rabbitohs

Piha Pool | Roosters, Broncos, Bulldogs, Sharks

Hunua Pool | Tigers, Vodafone Warriors, Raiders, Titans

Dick Smith Electronics CEO Nick Abboud said the company had no hesitation in sponsoring the tournament for the second year running.

“After such a successful inaugural year and a sell-out stadium of 90,000, we are anticipating the 2015 tournament to exceed expectations once again,” he said

“We know Auckland will put on a spectacular show and provide great atmosphere, not just in the stadium, but across the entire city.”

All 16 NRL teams will enter the tournament which carries prize money of more than $AU2.4 million.

The teams, which have nine players, are split into the four pools and play nine minute halves.

The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage of the tournament before the two top teams play in the final. 

Event travel packages are currently on sale in Australia through Sportsnet Holidays, www.sportsnetholidays.com (AUS) with three day packages including tickets, return flights, transfers and accommodation starting from just $1335 per person.

Domestic travel packages are also available in New Zealand through www.bcdsport.co.nz. Tickets are only currently available as part of a travel package purchase.   

Tickets will go on sale to the general public from October 9.

Key facts:

The Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines is a live 34 game, two-day rugby league extravaganza

  • 16 NRL teams with 288 players competing
  • Star players are contractually guaranteed
  • Australia’s Jillaroos will play three matches against the New Zealand  Ferns
  • Squad size has increased from 16 to 18 players per team to rotate more players and provide longer rest periods
  • Teams will be made up of nine players across four pools of four
  • AU$2.4 million dollars in prize money
  • A crowd of more than 90,000 expected over two days

The tournament is held thanks to a partnership between the NRL and New Zealand’s Duco Events, and sponsors ATEED and Dick Smith.

ATEED is the foundation host city sponsor on behalf of Auckland Council and will invest $NZ 9 million over five years as part of Auckland’s Major Events Strategy, while Dick Smith is also on board through to 2018.