NRL CEO Dave Smith Says Auckland Nines On Way To Become Box-Office Hit
National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith Thursday revealed the Auckland Nines "are on target to become the biggest box-office smash in the history of rugby league across the Tasman, and Cronulla is among a clutch of struggling clubs that want a piece of the action," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Smith said that "the event had already generated" more than A$3M ($2.7M) in ticket revenue, easily covering the A$2.25M prizemoney. The inaugural winner will receive a cheque for A$460,000, "an appealing booty for clubs such as the struggling Sharks, whose financial position has been exacerbated by the ongoing Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation." In excess of 35,000 tickets "have been sold for each day of the event," which will be held on Feb. 15 and 16 at Eden Park. As well as ticket revenue, the tournament "has also secured Dick Smith as a major sponsor" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13). In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported NRL players Robbie Farah and Todd Carney believe the appeal of a A$2.25M prize pool "will entice most clubs to send their strongest team to the NRL Auckland Nines in February" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/12).