Fans wishing to attend the Dick Smith Auckland Nines have been urged to move quickly to secure their tickets with news only limited seats remain before the event is declared a sell-out in its inaugural year.
Speaking at a special event a special event in Sydney where Robbie Farah, Willie Mason, Michael Ennis, Adam Reynolds and Anthony Watmough showcased their clubs' playing strips for the $A2.34 million event at Eden Park on February 15-16, NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said: "To attract over 90,000 fans over two days – including more than 10,000 from outside of Auckland – for the inaugural event, which is still 24 days away, is a great achievement."
The rush towards a sell-out is no surprise to the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines Managing Director, David Higgins of Duco Events.
"From day one (fellow Duco Events director) Dean Lonergan and I thought the concept was a winner," Higgins said. "We always thought the event could sell out, but didn't expect it until a day before the event when the hype is at a premium. To be in this position a month out – that has totally blown us away.
"It is a testament to the fact that Rugby League has a huge fan base and fans realise that the quality of football on the field will be immense from game one.
"The indication from all of the clubs is that they are coming to Eden Park to win the tournament. This is no pre-season hit-out."
The players are as excited as the fans about the Nines format.
Displaying his team's eye-catching jersey, Newcastle hard man Willie Mason said: "The Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines is going to be awesome.
"The fast and exciting format over just one weekend will also attract new fans, which is great for the game.
"The way the Kiwis have embraced it, along with our Aussie fans who are travelling over for it is testament to that.
"What a fantastic way to kick-off the footy season… I can't wait to get amongst it."
Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah agreed: "I was in Auckland last week and the talk about the Nines is non-stop.
"Everywhere you look there are pictures of Paul Gallen, Willie Mason, Todd Carney, Greg Bird – on trains, on shop fronts, bus shelters – and there are banners across the main street, on flag poles and shop windows.
"The atmosphere is going to be electric. Everyone at Wests Tigers is excited and we are going to Auckland to try our very best to win that inaugural trophy."
The players who showed off their club playing strip today included: Broncos - Ben Hunt; Bulldogs – Michael Ennis; Cowboys - Gavin Cooper; Dragons - Jason Nightingale; Knights - Willie Mason; Parramatta - Kelepi Tanginoa; Penrith - Jamie Soward; Rabbitohs - Adam Reynolds; Raiders -Luke Bateman; Roosters – Shaun Kenny-Dowall; Sea Eagles - Anthony Watmough; Sharks - Chris Heighington; Storm – Sisa Waqa; Titans - Ryan James; Wests Tigers - Robbie Farah.