The third Nine’s tournament has just been completed and the Eels prevailed to blow the dust off the trophy cabinet. Why not expand the tournament and give it an international flavour?
Next up is the All Stars game but it’s losing steam and much like the NFL pro bowl, will have to be revmaped to maintain it’s place on the NRL calendar.
The Nine’s could follow the same path to oblivion if the competition is not expanded and prize money increased.
The Nine’s should be increased to a three day tournament featuring 24 teams with a view to increasing to 32 teams, including the 16 NRL teams. Prize money should be increased to $1 million (minimum) for the winning team. I’d love to see $2 million up for grabs for the winning team but we have to crawl before we can walk.
Make it a tournament that the best players in the NRL will want to participate in. Make the prize money exempt from the salary cap. It would be a nice little earner if the prize money for winning was $1 million and split 17 ways. It would equate to just under $60,000 per player. Certainly a carrot worth dangling.
Four groups of six would still allow for the top two from each group to progress, but it would be harder and far more competitive and I believe, it would attract a larger crowd and have an international flavour to it as opposed to just including NRL teams.
Wouldn’t it be great to see non NRL teams win the Nine’s? It would be a shot in the arm for the international game and the prize money could pay development players and provide a pathway to the NRL. The opportunities are endless.
Will it happen? Probably not. The current format isn’t broken but the benefit of expanding the tournament would far outweigh the cost.
Growth is key and I would include the following teams in an expanded format:
Papua New Guinea
Best of NSW Cup
Best of Qld Cup
For the NSW and Qld cup, a preliminary nines tournament could be run in both states to pick the representative players, increasing the interest to a grass roots level.
It’s a long way off but something worth thinking about.