NRL sounds out clubs for potential Nines return

Written by NRL.com's Chief Reporter, Michael Chammas.

The NRL has approached the clubs to gauge an appetite for the potential return of the Nines next pre-season after what would be a three-year hiatus.

The World Cup Nines is already locked in to be played at Bankwest Stadium in Western Sydney this October, with the NRL now exploring the possibility of building off the back of that with the return of the Club Nines next February.

While Bankwest Stadium has been floated as a potential venue, NRL.com understands there is a demand for more high-level rugby league in Perth which could allow the game the chance to continue to expand its footprint into Western Australia given recent talks about potential expansion in the future.

The NRL opened the season with a double header at Perth's newly built Optus Stadium last year, while Origin II at the same venue on June 22 this year and is fast approaching a sell-out.

While the NRL is still to lock in its pre-season calendar for next year, club chief executives were recently asked if they would be interested in reopening discussions about the Nines for 2020.

The event proved highly popular with sponsors, fans and players in the first couple of years of its four-year tenure in Auckland, however it began to lose its gloss in the final two seasons at Eden Park.

Some clubs are willing to support the return of the concept, but the financial implications for both the governing body, its 16 teams and the players will be a major consideration.

While the new Bankwest Stadium would make the most logistical sense and also minimise costs given there are nine Sydney clubs, Perth, Melbourne’s AAMI Park, Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and even the new Townsville Stadium could be suitable options.

The Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Eels and Roosters are the four teams who have taken out the Nines tournament which was launched at Eden Park in 2014, however the Eels were later stripped of their 2016 trophy after the club’s salary cap breaches.