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Has the Nine Network pinched The Recruit away from Foxtel?

NewsKevin Perry
  NRL Rookie - Coming to Nine in 2016  image copyright - McGuire Media

NRL Rookie - Coming to Nine in 2016
image copyright - McGuire Media

The Nine Network has commissioned a new NRL Reality series and it’s a program that seems very familiar.

The new series titled NRL Rookie is produced by McGuire Media, the same company that created and produced the AFL focused series The Recruit for Foxtel.

The Recruit was arguably the most successful locally produced program in 2014 for Foxtel, breaking ratings record and winning awards for best reality series. On the night of the finale in September 2014, Foxtel proudly announced it had commissioned a second series to air in 2015, however this never eventuated.

Michael Voss whom had been the Star Coach for The Recruit quit the program at the end of 2014 to take a role at Port Adelaide. Foxtel confirmed The Recruit was “on hold” soon after but remained hopeful the program would return in 2016.

At the time Eddie McGuire used his radio program to complain his production company had lost money producing the ambitious series.

Updated 1pm 17th April - In response to this article a spokesperson for Foxtel has now stated "The Recruit remains in Foxtel’s plans for 2016. The Nine announcement is for an NRL version of the series, based on The Recruit format and in no way affects The Recruit. The Recruit format is owned by McGuire Media and Foxtel."

NRL Rookie will scout Australia and overseas to uncover the NRL’s next big star, who will be offered a one-year professional contract with one of the 16 NRL clubs. The program will air in 2016.

Entries are now officially open online, and after state-by-state and Auckland trials the successful candidates will travel to Sydney, living together and undergoing intensive training to become an elite NRL player.

As the 10-part program progresses, the number of rookies will be reduced until the winner is awarded a contract with an NRL club on a special live finale broadcast.

Nine Network Senior Executive Producer, Glenn Pallister, said: “We’re thrilled that this exciting new show will showcase some of the best undiscovered footy talent here in Australia and abroad. Each week the guys will be put through their paces in a variety of physical and mental challenges to see if they have what it takes to be the first NRL Rookie.”
NRL Head of Marketing, Lewis Pullen, said: “Somewhere out there is someone with great potential who dreams of becoming an NRL star. The NRL are going to help him realise that potential, whoever he is. And, not to forget about where they got their start, we’ll also be giving the winning rookie’s local rugby league club $25,000 to use for uniforms, equipment or a clubroom makeover, so we’re really excited.”

To be eligible to become the first NRL Rookie, players must be at least 20 years of age and must not have played an NRL first-grade game. Also, they must not have played NSW Cup, Queensland Cup or Holden Cup Under 20s over the past three seasons.