Auckland Nines pools revealed
The four pools of the 2016 Downer NRL Auckland Nines have been revealed, with local favourites the Warriors to face strong clubs Brisbane, Manly and Canterbury in the group stage.
Old rivals the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs will also square off in the opening rounds, while new NRL champions the Cowboys take on three teams who struggled this season but who also boast plenty of young talent in the Knights, Panthers and Wests Tigers.
The teams have been drawn into the following pools:
Pool Hunua: Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Warriors, Broncos
Pool Waiheke: Roosters, Rabbitohs, Eels, Storm
Pool Rangitoto: Knights, Cowboys, Panthers, Wests Tigers
Pool Piha: Dragons, Raiders, Sharks, Titans
The tournament will run over two days on Saturday February 6 and Sunday February 7 at Eden Park, Auckland. It has been confirmed Australia's women's team the Jillaroos will also take on New Zealand's Kiwi Ferns over the weekend once again.
Each nine-a-side game is played over two nine-minute halves, with clubs naming a squad of 18 for the tournament. A whopping $NZ2.6 million in prize money is up for grabs in the 2016 tournament.
After a round robin format in each pool, the top two teams will advance to the quarter-finals.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will be defending their 2015 Auckland Nines title, having beaten the Cronulla Sharks in the 2015 final. Issac Luke, who lifted the trophy as the Rabbitohs captain this year, could make his debut for his new club the Warriors in the tournament alongside fellow star signing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.