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Warriors' fault for Nines flop: organisers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/02/2017

Isaiah Papalii of the Warriors clashes against Bevan French of the Eels the 2017 Auckland Nines © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Isaiah Papalii of the Warriors clashes against Bevan French of the Eels the 2017 Auckland Nines Auckland Nines organisers have called for the event to be moved to Australia, laying the blame at the feet of the Warriors.

The event's contract to stay in the New Zealand's biggest city is not due to expire until next year.

However, however the NRL is understood to be keen on it to be moved to Brisbane.

Melbourne has also been touted as a home for the pre-season tournament with the Victorian government already lodging interest to lure it south for 2019.

While official attendances were not released by Duco Events, they said about 22,000 people attended Eden Park on both days.

Duco Events director Dean Lonergan pointed the finger squarely at the Warriors, saying their poor performance to miss the NRL top eight in 2016 and lacklustre Nines squad dented the crowd size.

"What doesn't help first and foremost is that the Warriors had a shocking season last year," Lonergan told the Big Sports Breakfast.

"If the Warriors had have had a great season, made the eight or made the four, we'd sell another 10,000 or 15,000 tickets easily as both Auckland and New Zealand are Warriors supporters and they also have a second team in Sydney.

"Then they turned around and named what I consider to be a quite a poor team.

"And then their attitude was 'we don't really care what happens in the Nines'. My personal opinion is the Warriors have probably sounded the death knell for this for Auckland city and the NRL will be very keen to take this elsewhere."

After four years, Lonergan said the Nines had outstayed its welcome in Auckland and it was time for it to be brought to Australia.

"It's probably time to go elsewhere," he said.

"Maybe Brisbane, maybe Melbourne, maybe Perth. Who knows? The NRL will be the major determiner of that."

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