Pre-season league hit-out resurrected

Bunny Nicholas prepares for the pre-season Rugby Leage 9’s hit out this weekend. Photo: John Borren.

The Coastline Rugby League it breathing life into its dormant pre-season, 9’s rugby league tournament.

And this weekend, after a 10 to 15 year hiatus, at least five of the regions clubs will compete in the resurrected Coastline 9’s tournament.

“I don’t know why it stopped, but it’s a valuable pre-season hit-out for the players,” says Coastline chairman and event manager Stan “Bunny” Nicholas.

“And a chance for the clubs to get out there and advertise that they are up and running for the 2020 season.”

Five clubs have confirmed they’ll be sending senior men’s teams - Otumoetai Eels, Papamoa Bulldogs, Tauranga Whalers, Hangarau Storm and the Putauaki Stags.

“We’re not sure if the Te Puke Tigers and Whakatane’s Mataatua will be ready.”

The senior men’s tournament will be run alongside a senior women’s and under 17 boy’s tournament.

Bunny says all the clubs report good numbers wanting to turn out for the 2020 season.

“But the players seem to sitting around waiting for the season to get closer. They don’t want to start training.” Bunny blames the weather.

“The heat has been terrible for training. And those who have been turning out, have been gasping. But with the weather cooling, the 9’s tournament might be just what’s needed to get the boys to Tuesday night training.”

The Coastline 9’s start at Grenada Park at 10am tomorrow.

“Each team will be guaranteed at least two nine-minute games - I would like to think three or four games,” says Bunny.

And there’s no final, no winner. It is just about game time, a pre-season hit-out.

And Bunny’s looking back at last weekend’s NRL 9’s tournament in Perth as inspiration. More than 300 of the game’s best men and women players were on show over two days when 150 tries and nearly 800 points were scored. About 25,000 people packed the stadium over the two days.

“It was great. The pace and the athleticism was amazing,” says Bunny.

“We might not see that pace at Grenada Park tomorrow, but we will get to see a lot of natural local talent.”

It’s a chance to get involved in local rugby league. “If you like the game, want to give it a shot, come and join us now, get training.”

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