Nines offences could carry across the ditch

Players face the prospect of missing the opening rounds of the NRL season if they are put on report for "serious misconduct" during the Auckland Nines tournament in February.

The NRL is yet to finalise their match review process for the inaugural tournament to be played at Eden Park on February 15 and 16, but players who are charged or put on report could miss the start of the NRL season.

While most clubs are reluctant to risk their star players being injured, the news that suspension in the Nines tournament could carry over to the NRL may act as a deterrent for some clubs still deciding on the calibre of players they will send over for the tournament.

The NRL is yet to decide how the judiciary system will work, but NRL general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk admitted players who were guilty of serious misconduct would be rubbed out of the start of the season.

"If a player transgresses within the Nines tournament they can potentially be suspended either within the Nines or further into the NRL competition for more serious misconduct," he said at launch of the Nines rules in Auckland on Tuesday.

"For more serious misconduct - I wouldn't necessarily say a high tackle is a more serious misconduct - but the vast majority of things we hope will be dealt with within the tournament."

All clubs will play a minimum of three games across two days during the tournament, which has a $2.6 million prize pool, placing great importance on a quick match review and judiciary process.

It is likely the NRL will send over one match review panelist and one judiciary panelist but, given match review commissioner Greg McCallum has stepped down from the role, an official plan to deal with charges has been put on the back burner.

"We're still developing our judiciary processes," McGuirk said.

"We're obviously going to have a minimised version of our judiciary process. It's got to be a very quick match review and a very quick judiciary hearing before the next game. But the same rules that apply in the NRL for player discipline will apply for the Nines.

"We haven't developed fully the actual rules of the Nines tournament in terms of the judiciary. That something that will come closer to the tournament ... if it requires one of our judiciary panelists being over [in Auckland] then we will do it. The thing about the Nines and open free-flowing football is that it doesn't lend itself to serious misconduct actually occurring. That's why we have rules in place to deal with them if they occur."

Duco Events director David Higgins, the organisers of the Nines tournament, will meet with all 16 NRL clubs at a chief executives' meeting in Sydney on Wednesday to discuss the logistics of the competition.

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