Defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels, TKV Warriors, Tupapa Panthers, Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles, Titikaveka Bulldogs, Arorangi Bears and newcomer Queensland Kukis will battle for the $5000 top prize money. Aitutaki Sharks have withdrawn from the tournament.
With about three weeks left before the big event, CIRLA competition coordinator Taua Benioni said teams were getting excited about playing in the third annual tournament.
He said it was unfortunate the Sharks had pulled out due to commitments on the island.
“The whole idea behind this tournament is to help the clubs prepare for the 2018 season and unfortunately Aitutaki will miss out on this opportunity again,” Benioni said.
Clubs are expected to have started their preparation for the Nines which will have some lucrative prizes on stake.
“All teams by now should be using this event as their first build-up for 2018 season kicking off in early February,” Benioni said.
Included in this year’s Nines is the junior grade competition in a bid to help develop the sport from the grassroots level.
“We have included a junior’s U13s grade in this Nines tournament kicking off at 10am with the last games around 11.30am,” Benioni said.
“CIRLA is asking for more focus towards their juniors and thus hopefully increasing the numbers of teams for 2018.”
Benioni said they were also excited to have a visit from the Queensland Kukis who are expected to increase the level of competition in the two-day tournament.
“They have been drawn in the first match against the champions of both past tournaments, the Avatiu Eels.
“Being the only overseas team, I’m sure they will have a few standouts in their team of only 16, with seven players coming out of the Queensland Cup competition which is a grade down from NRL.
“I’m sure our teams will also have a few surprises.”
CIRL Nines tickets have been distributed to all six league clubs for sale. Tickets cost $10 for both days and $7 per day at the gate.
Tickets will also be available at stores around the island starting with the Tepuka Store at Nikao.
For enquiries regarding tickets contact Taua Benioni on 50893 or Elizabeth Tou, 52681.
Day One – 12.30pm Queensland Kukis-Eels, 12.55pm Sea Eagles-Bulldogs, 1.20pm Warriors-Panthers, 1.45pm Bears-Queensland Kukis, 2.10pm Eels-Bulldogs, 2.35pm Panthers-Sea Eagles, 3.00pm Warriors-Bears, 3.25pm Queensland Kukis-Bulldogs, 3.50pm Eels-Sea Eagles, 4.15pm Panthers-Bears, 4.40pm Queensland Kukis-Warriors, 5.05pm Panthers-Bulldogs, 5.30pm Sea Eagles-Bears, 6.00pm Eels-Warriors; Day Two – 12.00pm Queensland Kukis-Sea Eagles, 12.25pm Panthers-Eels, 12.50pm Bulldogs-Bears, 1.15pm Sea Eagles-Warriors, 1.40pm Queensland Kukis-Panthers, 2.05pm Eels-Bears, 2.30pm Warriors-Bulldogs