February's inaugural Kurri Kurri 9s competition has attracted 16 teams already from across the Hunter and beyond.
Seven of the eight Newcastle Rugby League clubs have confirmed they are entering teams, with only the Maitland Pickers to make a final decision on whether they will take part in the event on Saturday, February 24.
The date clashes with the Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels trial game to officially launch the new Maitland Sportsground, but organisers are confident of attracting a big crowd.
Kurri Kurri coach Ron Griffiths said he could understand if the Pickers were unable to attend due to celebrations surrounding the sportsground’s opening.
“It would be great to have teams from all the Newcastle clubs, particularly a fellow Coalfields club in Maitland,” he said.
“It might be an opportunity for some of the younger players to get a run, but that call is up to Maitland. We would love to have them but understand their situation.
“We’ve had some interest from right up to the Queensland border down to the Redfern All Blacks, who have won the last three competitions in the Sydney A-grade.
“Coogee is interested and there are sides from Group 21 such as Aberdeen. It looks like it’s going to be a good mix from various competitions.”
Griffiths said from a coach’s perspective the competition offered an exciting opportunity to see players’ natural ability outside the confines of normal game structures.
“I believe as a coach a lot of sides, including us, play very structured and the nines gives you a chance to look at players’ natural ability and how they can take advantage of a situation that presents itself.
“It can highlight different strengths in players which may not come to the fore otherwise.
“I’d like to think there would be a lot of young guys that will get a chance if they continue to train well and show continued improvement.
“For young forwards like Reid Alchin and Jordy Mitchell, who made really impressive debuts last year, it is a chance to take another step.
“It puts them under a bit more pressure defensively as it is a lot harder to defend in nines.”
Entry will be $5 for adults with children free.