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Gallen craving NRL Nines' $2m cash pie

Put a $2 million pie in front of 16 NRL teams and what do you get?
Gallen craving NRL Nines' $2m cash pie
by AAP

By Roje Adaimy

SYDNEY, Sept 4 AAP - Put a $2 million pie in front of 16 NRL teams and what do you get?

Club bosses licking their lips and a bunch of very hungry players - led by a starving Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen.

The NSW and Australian Test star joined a throng of players and officials on Wednesday to launch the inaugural NRL Nines tournament, to be held over two days at Auckland's Eden Park from February 15 next year.

The nine-a-side competition will feature all 16 NRL clubs - split into four groups - and 18-minute matches.

The top two teams from each group will then qualify for the playoffs.

The overall winning side is set to pocket nearly $500,000 - more than what's on offer for NRL grand final winners - from a prize pool of over $2 million.

"It's pretty serious money and we all know how tough league clubs do it these days," Gallen said.

"I think a lot of teams will be taking it pretty seriously."

None more so than the Sharks, whose ongoing financial troubles deepened this season in the fallout of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority drugs investigation.

"It's been a tough 10 years I've been there," Gallen said.

"Obviously things are looking good with the (club's $300 million commercial) development but that's still probably 18 months or two years away.

"So an injection like this would be massive. If we were to win it, it would be huge."

Gallen said he preferred the proposed pre-season tournament to regular trial games that "don't mean a lot" and was unconcerned about the busy schedule with this year's rugby league World Cup ending on November 30.

"A lot of players in the World Cup will be playing minimal time in it anyway," he said.

"I don't see it being too much of an issue."

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg admitted some clubs had questioned their involvement in pre-season activities, following criticism from the likes of Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy.

"But I think now we've made this decision ... that people want to be a part of it," Greenberg said.

"I think any of that early negativity has been certainly taken away and people are really excited."

NRL clubs have guaranteed at least one top five player from each team's salary cap will play, alongside at least 12 of each club's top 25 salary-capped players.

Gallen is tipping some of the game's biggest men including Andrew Fifita, Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess to thrive in the fast-paced format.

"Blokes who are hard to tackle one-on-one who have got a bit of speed and some skill, I think are going to be pretty devastating in it," Gallen said.

Teammate Todd Carney agreed.

"I'm not too excited about the big Burgess boys running at me, but it's definitely exciting for players like me as it gives us an open field," Carney said.

The event is scheduled to be held in Auckland for the next five years.




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