The Sharks, who acquitted themselves well in progressing to the last four at the 2014 tournament, will play the Roosters, Broncos and Bulldogs in the preliminary rounds of the 2015 NRL Dick Smith Auckland Nines.
The announcement came today when the pools and the draw was revealed for the 2015 event, scheduled for Eden Park on January 31and February 1.
The draw leaves the Sharks facing a tough assignment after being grouped with three of the NRL heavyweights, with the top two sides from each pool progressing to the knockout stage.
Reigning Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines champions, the North Queensland Cowboys will take on the Storm, Panthers and Rabbitohs in their pool games.
The team pools were drawn today by NRL, Jillaroo and Kiwi Fern players including Trent Merrin, Nathan Peats, Maddie Studdon and Sarina Fiso along with Dick Smith Electronics CEO, Mr Nick Abboud.
The NRL also announced that the current women’s Rugby League World Champions, the Jillaroos will play three nine-per-side matches against New Zealand’s Kiwi Ferns at the 2015 event.
The matches will be televised live on Sky Television during the Nines broadcast.
Lovers of Auckland from around the world were given the unique opportunity to play a part in the 2015 tournament by choosing names for each of the four pools, with the most popular choices being made the pool names.
The public’s choices showcase the diversity of the Auckland region’s most iconic visitor destinations.
The public’s choices were:
- Rangitoto - the Island’s famed volcanic cone
- Waiheke – the home of the nations’ wineries
- Piha – which represents a rugged West Coast beach
- Hunua Ranges – one of the nation’s most famous bush areas
Rangitoto Pool: Eels, Sea-Eagles, Knights, Dragons
Waiheke Pool: Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Rabbitohs
Piha Pool: Sharks, Roosters, Broncos, Bulldogs
Hunau Ranges Pool: Tigers, Warriors, Raiders, Titans
Dick Smith Electronics CEO, Mr Nick Abboud, said the company had no hesitation in sponsoring the tournament for the second year running.
“After such a successful inaugural year and a sell-out stadium of 90,000, we are anticipating the 2015 tournament to exceed expectations once again,” Mr Abboud said
“We know Auckland will put on a spectacular show and provide great atmosphere, not just in the stadium, but across the entire city.”
All 16 NRL teams will participate in the tournament which features 34 games and carries prize money of more than $AU2.4 million. The teams, which have nine players, are split into the four pools and play nine minute halves. Squad size has increased from 16 – 18 players per team this year to allow for better rotation of players and to provide longer rest periods
The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage of the tournament before the two top teams play in the final.
Event travel packages are currently on sale in Australia through Sportsnet Holidays, www.sportsnetholidays.com (AUS) with three day packages including tickets, return flights, transfers and accommodation starting from just $1335 per person.
Domestic travel packages are also available in New Zealand through www.bcdsport.co.nz. Tickets are only currently available as part of a travel package purchase.
Tickets will go on sale to the general public from October 9.
The tournament is thanks to a partnership between the NRL and New Zealand’s Duco Events, and sponsors ATEED and Dick Smith.
See following the draw for the 2015 NRL Dick Smith Auckland Nines