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The return of the NRL Nines is confirmed, with Perth’s HBF Park to host the footy festival in 2020.
With the World Cup 9s garnering positive feedback over the weekend, fans will get another taste of the modified game on February 14-15.
Fun is the focus of the two-day tournament. Supporters are encouraged to dress extravagantly and join in the party while enjoying some high-octane summer rugby league.
The NRL Nines, formerly held in Auckland, started in 2014 but went on hiatus from 2018 amid player workload concerns after a World Cup.
All 16 NRL clubs and four NRLW sides will compete in the revamped concept. The men’s competition will feature four pools, while the women will play a round-robin.
To encourage teams to field their best players, $1 million will be awarded to any club that wins the Nines and the NRL Telstra Premiership.
“Nines is the fastest form of our game. It shows the speed, agility and attacking prowess of our most exciting players,” said NRL head of elite football Graham Annesley.
After successfully bringing State of Origin II to Western Australia’s Optus Stadium earlier this year, Annesley said the state’s hunger for rugby league is clear and the 20,500-capacity HBF Park is the ideal venue.
“The sell-out crowd in Perth for State of Origin highlighted how much interest West Australians have in rugby league and we are committed to growing the game here,” he said.
“There are few better destinations than summer in Perth and we want this event to be a summer vibes festival. We’re looking forward to seeing a stadium of colour to kick-off our 2020 season.”
WA tourism minister Paul Papalia heralded the Nines as a major coup.
“We’re thrilled to have locked in the best in rugby league, playing in the fun, fast, Nines format,” Papalia said.
“We have earned our stripes by hosting some blockbuster NRL games in Perth, showing just how popular the sport is here in WA and how well we host big events.
“This is another chance for people to get their mates together and enjoy another rugby league first for WA with the Nines tournament.”
The Sydney Roosters were the most recent NRL Nines champions, with the Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs and North Queensland Cowboys also having lifted the trophy.
However, Parramatta’s 2016 triumph was stripped because of salary cap breaches.