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Greenberg guarantees NRL Nines future

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/02/2017 Matt Encarnacion

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans during the 2016 Auckland Nines at Eden Park on February 7, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Simon Watts/Getty Images) © Simon Watts/Getty Images AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 07: Fans during the 2016 Auckland Nines at Eden Park on February 7, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Simon Watts/Getty Images) NRL boss Todd Greenberg has all but guaranteed the Auckland Nines is set to stay beyond the 2018 tournament, but admits it could be headed elsewhere when its contract expires next year.

New Zealand's largest city is preparing to host the fourth instalment of the season-opening tournament after teams arrived in Auckland on Thursday.

However questions surround the future of the two-day event, with many suggesting next year's event could be the last of its kind at Eden Park.

Greenberg confirmed the NRL would proceed with next year's tournament despite the likelihood of top-line players pulling out due to World Cup commitments at the end of the year.

"Two things I'll say, one is we have a five-year contract here and we plan to honour that. The second thing I'd say is that Nines has a massive future inside rugby league," he said.

"Where we decide to play those games and when we decide those games are all things that are being considered right now. But Nines has a future.

"It has a future at the elite level, and it certainly has a future at the participation and grassroots level. We plan to grow it as best we can."

Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney are among the candidates set to put their hand up to host the event, with Auckland also to be considered.

With over $A2 million ($NZ2.1 million) prize money at stake, Greenberg said the financial rewards on offer was a massive boon for not only the governing body, but the game as well.

The winning team pockets $A370,000, while teams receive a minimum $A110,000 for turning up.

"It is a very healthy commercial venture for the game and the clubs," Greenberg said.

"Millions of dollars go back into grassroots footy through a legacy programme here in Auckland. But also our NRL clubs, they're all here taking a commercial return, as they should."

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