Former Australian second-rower Mark Geyer says he wouldn’t send his top stars to the Auckland Nines if he was coaching an NRL side.
Speaking to RadioLIVE’s Sunday Sport, Geyer said he was happy for veterans like Ruben Wiki but wasn’t convinced he’d be letting the likes of Bryce Cartwright or Johnathan Thurston play in the tournament.
“Seeing guys like Ruben Wiki coming to play the Nines makes me more interested than I was before,” he said.
“I would love the Nines to stay in Auckland, they deserve and it and made it their own. It shouldn’t be a debate, the debate should be around who should play. The star power is what puts bums on seats.
“If I’m coaching the Panthers, no way am I sending Matt Moylan or Bryce Cartwright.
“If I’m coaching the Cowboys, no way am I sending JT [Johnathan Thurston] or Michael Morgan.”
The premiership-winning firebrand said there was a place for the format but it needed to be altered.
“I have a look at the success Fiji had at the Rio Olympics and I know the sport is growing in the grass roots, but I don’t know what the future holds for the sport.
“There are plenty of talks about it being an under 20s competition, but why would you go pay tickets to go see players who you don’t know?
“Each club should have a mandate of playing at least three ex-players, combine with three first grade players and then fringe players along with U20’s players.
“I’m not sure I’d be sad if they canned the Nines, but I’d be disappointed.”