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Lonergan blames Warriors for Nines' demise

Newshub logoNewshub 9/07/2017 Newshub staff

© Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited Duco Events promoter Dean Lonergan has taken aim at the Warriors for the demise of the NRL Auckland Nines.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Nines will be axed for 2018 while the NRL decides how to best approach the concept in the future.

Players are required to have a stand down period at the end of the season and with the World Cup final to be played on December 2, a number of world-class players would miss the event.

Lonergan told Andrew Gourdie and Jim Kayes on RadioLIVE's Sunday Sport the Warriors are to blame for the downfall of the tournament.

"The disappointing thing was the Warriors pissed on the Nines this year and that really annoyed me,"Lonergan said.

"They didn't play their best side, they had some idiot Steve McNamara saying 'We don't really care what the public thinks' and I was like 'What is that about?'"

"The Nines is the best innovation in rugby league since the Warriors came along and with the attitude they brought along to the Nines [it] was disappointing to say the least."

© Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited The Warriors made the finals in the first three years of the competition, but opted against fielding a strong team at this year's event due to injuries and wanting to focus on the NRL season. 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was coming off knee reconstruction while Shaun Johnson was battling a groin injury, and the Warriors were not willing to risk further injury.

"Would it have changed the crowds if the Warriors had taken it seriously? I don't know and I don't think so but it certainly impacted on what happened going forward," Lonergan said.

"They didn't play their best possible team, which would have been nice if they had and it would have been nice if they had taken it seriously rather than saying we don't care about the Nines, we care about the rest of the season.

© Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited It is expected the Nines will return in 2019, but it won't be played in Auckland. Both Perth and Brisbane are reportedly the favourites to take over.

An NRL spokesman told the Daily Telegraph talks are being finalised regarding the future of the concept.

"Irrespective of what happens next year, the Nines has a future," he said.

The Telegraph is also reporting the NRL is open to the idea of inviting English Super League teams and potentially international teams to take part, in the hope of renewing interest in the concept.

Negotiations between the NRL and tournament promoters Duco regarding the future of the competition are continuing.

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