After the success of the tournament last year, the fanfare and hype surrounding the 2015 Auckland Nines is now in full swing, with details and the draw itself released by the NRL.
With four groups in total, each housing a local New Zealand name, the competition is sure to be full of surprises, great plays and individual skill.
For New Zealand viewers, they will be able to watch all the games on Sky Television and in an additional boost, the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns will play three games against each other at the tournament.
With the event growing and developing as a spectacle, the NRL’s Football Operations Manager Nathan McGuirk said that including women’s teams in the event, was the next step.
“The spirit of the 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 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.”
It was the fans and lovers of Auckland that were given the chance to choose the four group names. Their significance and background are as follows:
Rangitoto: the island’s famous volcanic cone.
Waiheke: the home of the nation’s wineries.
Piha: a rugged West Coast beach.
Hunua Ranges: a famous bush area.
With the names of the groups known, all 16 NRL teams have been allocated groups and they are as follows:
Rangitoto Group: Eels, Sea Eagles, Knights and Dragons.
Waiheke Group: Storm, Panthers, Cowboys and Rabbitohs.
Piha Group: Roosters, Broncos, Bulldogs and Sharks.
Hunua Group: Tigers, Warriors, Raiders and Titans.
After the huge success of the first tournament in 2014, Dick Smith CEO Nick Abboud said the company had no hesitations when it came to sponsoring the tournament again.
“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,” Mr Abboud said.
“We know Auckland will put on a spectacular show and provide great atmosphere, not just in the stadium, but across the entire city.”
For the Jillaroos and the Kiwi Ferns, it is an honour to play in the competition with Kiwis fullback Sarina Fiso well aware of what the fixtures will do for the women’s game.
“This brings a massive boost to women’s rugby league back home, we don’t have many regular international fixtures so it’s going to bring a lot of interest to the game,” said Fiso.
“It’s something we’re really, really looking forward to.”
“The girls are going to be really stoked when they hear this. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere.”