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2017 could be the last year for Auckland Nines

Sporting News logo Sporting News 30/01/2017
Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, Johnathan Thurston, Issac Luke and Shaun Johnson with the NRL Nines trophy. © Phil Walter/Getty Images Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, Johnathan Thurston, Issac Luke and Shaun Johnson with the NRL Nines trophy.

After three entertaining years, the Auckland Nines may be playing its last tournament in 2017 due to a packed schedule with the Rugby League World Cup.

The World Cup is the main event of the year, and there are concerns that the NRL's stars won't be available for the following Nines competition, taking away plenty of attention.

It means players won't begin their off-season until December 2, leaving them with only eight weeks to rest before the 2018 season.

The Nines is in the fifth and final year of its contract, with a chance a deal may not be renewed.

"Ultimately it's going to be an NRL decision," Duco Events and Nines promoter Dean Lonergan told The Sydney Morning Herald .

"While we come up with the concept, they're the ones that agreed to do it in partnership with us. We'll sit down after this year and see exactly what happens.

"There's obviously some issues next year around player availability due to the rugby league World Cup.

''At the end of the day, the success and failure of this is how many stars you get in the middle of that field. You can't run it without the stars."

Across three years the Nines have featured 44 NZ internationals, 43 Kangaroos and 45 State of Origin representatives.

2018's tournament will struggle to attract the same number of stars.

"The NRL has a lot of stuff to work through with the players' association, us and ATEED and to make sure we put together something that works," Lonergan said.

"They are committed to the Nines for a long period of time. They like it as a season opener. All of the clubs get a cash injection [contesting $2.25 million in prize money at a time when they normally lose money on pre-season games."

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