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Eden Park chief keen on bringing State of Origin to Auckland

Eden Park chief executive David Kennedy has said the venue is keen to attract a State of Origin game following its successful staging of the inaugural Auckland Nines rugby league event at the weekend.

Australian league the NRL took the two-day, nine-a-side, knock-out tournament to 48,000-seat Eden Park where sell-out crowds watched all 16 clubs in action. Kennedy retains a long-standing interest in bringing a State of Origin game to Auckland and told The Australian newspaper that he hoped to capitalise on the Nines by making a fresh approach to the NRL. “It's certainly something we're still interested in doing,” Kennedy said.

The annual showpiece State of Origin series has only ever been staged outside Australia once, when one game was played in Long Beach, California in 1987 as a means of promoting the sport in the US. Kennedy has previously approached the NRL over the potential for hosting an Origin game in Auckland, but the league has been focused on building its support in the state of Victoria and strengthening its core markets in the competing states of Queensland and New South Wales.

The Australian said the earliest likely date for an Auckland-based game would be 2018, with Origin games already assigned hosts for the foreseeable future.