NEWCASTLE Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says the city will "absolutely" launch a bid to host next year's NRL Nines competition after the tournament's underwhelming reception in Perth last weekend.
The marquee event drew crowds of 10,128 and 14,739 over two days at HBF Park, which NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg described as "a pass mark".
Greenberg revealed in an interview on the weekend that the NRL was considering the option of staging the 2021 Nines in Newcastle, Canberra or Queensland, and he preferred to "keep it moving around" as a promotional vehicle.
Newcastle City Council held negotiations with the NRL last season about hosting this season's Nines, but was outbid by Perth.
Nelmes was confident of convincing the governing body that McDonald Jones Stadium would be the ideal venue.
"It would be fantastic to attract fans from around Australia to enjoy our spectacular coastal setting during summer and give the local economy a financial and promotional boost," she said.
"City of Newcastle would be thrilled for the Hunter Region's rugby league-loving public to host future NRL Nines tournaments in Newcastle ...
"There's no question that Newcastle loves its rugby league and we would embrace the chance to host such an exciting concept with free-flowing matches that offer the game's up-and-coming players - plus fit, retired players like Kurt Gidley - a chance to shine on the big stage."
Nelmes said Newcastle's bid would be a joint venture in conjunction with Venues NSW. "That's how we have secured other big events like the Wallabies, Waratahs and Matildas," she said.
There's no question that Newcastle loves its rugby league and we would embrace the chance to host such an exciting concept.NUATALI NELMES
Working in Newcastle's favour is the fact that NRL officials can bank on a well-attended event.
The Knights last season had the third-best home-crowd average (19,053) in the NRL and representative games in Newcastle have always drawn big turnouts.
Trans-Tasman Test matches played in Newcastle in 2011 and 2016 drew crowds of 32,890 and 27,724 respectively, while the 2017 All-Stars match drew 20,241.
In comparison, the 2017 Test between Australia and New Zealand at Canberra Stadium attracted 18,535 fans.
Townsville has been proposed as a possible venue for the Nines, after the completion of the new 25,000-seat North Queensland Stadium, but there are concerns about the tropical heat in February.