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Top players back new tournament

OPPONENTS of the Auckland Nines, to be held in the North Island city for the next five years, have argued the tournament adds to an already heavy player workload.

Plenty of players, on the other hand, have thrown their support behind the competition, which will be contested on February 15-16 with an expected prize pool of $A2.25 million.

Representative players including Robbie Farah, Sam Thaiday, Todd Carney, Anthony Watmough and Paul Gallen have said they would play, despite the proximity to November's World Cup.

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson echoed the thoughts of that group, saying, "It will be a good challenge, but should be fun as well."

Clubs will be required to send 16 of their top 25 players, including at least one of their top five names.

NRL marketing boss Paul Kind said he understood not everyone was in favour of the tournament, which was launched yesterday.

"There are challenges in any pre-season scheduling, but we think we have the balance right between the success of the tournament and player welfare," he said.