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NZ not ready for second NRL team: Watson

Warriors owner Eric Watson has cautioned the NRL on the merits of expansion in New Zealand despite the success of the Nines in Auckland.
NZ not ready for second NRL team: Watson
by AAP

By James Macsmith

AUCKLAND, Feb 16 AAP - Warriors owner Eric Watson has cautioned the NRL on the merits of expansion in New Zealand despite the success of the Nines in Auckland.

Watson says he was pleasantly surprised how well the event had been received in New Zealand but believes now is not the time to have a second Kiwi team enter the NRL competition.

Wellington has consistently been mentioned as a possible home for a second New Zealand team and NRL boss Dave Smith has consistently talked about growing the game.

But given the pitfalls experienced during previous expansion attempts and concerns there is currently not enough player talent to fill more than 16 teams, moving beyond the current format could be fraught with danger.

New Zealand millionaire Watson believes the game must continue to grow in the rugby union heartland before another Kiwi team joins the Warriors in the NRL competition.

"Who knows what the future holds, competition is good," Watson said on Sunday.

"I think the New Zealand Warriors have a long way to go and a lot of opportunity.

"We haven't won an NRL yet and this is our 20th year.

"I would look at another term maybe when we a have won a couple of NRLs.

"I would take that approach. Get that under our belt first.

"We have to prove we are capable of winning at the highest possible level first, we have yet to. We will but we have yet to do it."

Watson said the Nines success would prove a boon for the Warriors.

"This is above expectation," he said.

"The NRL, Duco Events, The Warriors etc. everyone involved have under promised and over delivered which is the hardest thing in the world to do.

"It is very special. We all have dreams but to imagine having all 16 teams playing together at Eden Park is incredible.

"The NRL have taken some risk and it has paid off in spades and it will continue to.

"It's not your normal rugby league crowd and it can only be good for the Warriors.

"We are reaching out to a much broader range of people."




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