Players team photo during the Rugby League World Cup 9s Media Day.
Players team photo during the Rugby League World Cup 9s Media Day.

Meninga tips dark horses to worry big boys

DESPITE being the newest format of rugby league, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga knows more than most you can never be assured of success at a tournament like this.

While the NRL adopted the nines concept for a pre-season tournament, this will be the first World Cup in the format.

Yet in 1996 and 1997, the Super League World Nines took place - and Meninga coached Australia in the first edition.

Live stream the inaugural Downer Rugby League World Cup 9's Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >

 

It was an alternative to the ARL's Sevens competition during the Super League competition.

Australia romped into the semi-finals but were beaten 10-8 by New Zealand.

The Kiwis played Papua New Guinea in the final after they defeated England 15-14 - and won 26-10.

In fact New Zealand won both editions of the World Nines.

While it's been 23-years since his last Nines coaching gig, the lesson he learned from the past is that you can always be surprised by the sides considered minnows.

"It's pretty prestigious from a playing point of view. But we've got a sense of fun to it all," Meninga said.

Australian coach Mal Meninga knows from experience.
Australian coach Mal Meninga knows from experience.

"I don't think it's too dissimilar to 13-a-side structurally. There is an opportunity to use your skills and speed and turn on the burners as well.

"But defence wins games, and it's no different in Nines. Effort on effort defensively is really important."

As international rugby league comes on in leaps and bounds in recent seasons, Pool C is intriguing fans with strong Pacific Islands nations Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands going head to head for the one playoff spot.

"It's a great equaliser," Meninga said. "You see the Pacific Islands and PNG, they will have a tremendous tournament with their speed and their ability to excite people. They'll worry the big three's defences.

"It's a tournament where some underdogs might come through and win it. If we don't play well and with the right attitude, we could be beaten."

There will be 75 NRL players on show across the 12 men's teams and the world's best female players.

But regardless of the result, Meninga joined England coach Wayne Bennett to urge the International Rugby League to let the game grow.

"I'm hoping it's the start of something great in our game," Meninga said. "A pioneer tournament for World Cup and Nines. I see value in the Nines being a really good showcase opportunity for our game around the world, similar to Rugby Sevens.

"I think Wayne said yesterday, we hope we don't give up too quickly. That we actually try and find a place on the international calendar.

"And that gap between World Cups on the four-year cycle works really well."

Maika Sivo’s Eels teammates know just how dangerous he is.
Maika Sivo’s Eels teammates know just how dangerous he is.

WHEN IS IT?

The Rugby League World Cup 9s start Friday, October 18, with 21 games starting with France playing Lebanon at 6.20pm at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta. Australia plays New Zealand at 9pm.

The next two games will take place on Saturday with the top two teams of Pool A and the top teams of Pool B and C making the finals, which will be wrapped up with the final at 9pm on Saturday.

RULES

- Nine players per side, nine minutes per half

- Unlimited interchange

- Five tackles per set, rather than six

- Sin bins: three minutes rather than 10

- Conversions are drop kicks, with a 25-second shot clock

- 20/40 kicks introduced, as well as 40/20s

- Five points, rather than four, awarded for a try scored in the Bonus Zone between the goalposts

- Drawn matches decided by a golden try

POOLS

Pool A: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea

Pool B: England, France, Lebanon, Wales

Pool C: Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga Invitational

AUSTRALIA MATCHES

Friday October 19, 9pm vs New Zealand

Saturday October 20, 2.10pm vs USA
Saturday October 20, 5.15pm vs Papua New Guinea

FINALS MATCHES

Saturday October 20, 6.55pm: Semi Final 1

Saturday October 20, 7.20pm: Semi Final 2

Saturday October 20, 9.00pm: World Cup Nines Final

More than 70 NRL players will take part.
More than 70 NRL players will take part.

AUSTRALIAN TEAM

Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm), Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans), AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles), Kyle Feldt (North Queensland Cowboys), David Fifita (Brisbane Broncos), Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons), Reuben Garrick (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Campbell Graham (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Wade Graham (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels), Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm), Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)

NEW ZEALAND TEAM

Leeson Ah Mau (NZ Warriors), Dylan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Zane Tetevano (Sydney Roosters), Corey Harawira-Naera (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Jamayne Isaako (Brisbane Broncos), Shaun Johnson (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks), Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Ken Maumalo (NZ Warriors), Briton Nikora (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks), Kodi Nikorima (NZ Warriors), Kevin Proctor (Gold Coast Titans), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Canberra Raiders), Bailey Simonsson (Canberra Raiders), Reimis Smith (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Joseph Tapine (Canberra Raiders)

HOW CAN I WATCH?

Kayo Sports, Australia's multi-sport streaming service, will deliver customers live and on demand coverage of all 48 matches.

In addition to all the LIVE action, Kayo will deliver every match of the tournament on demand, meaning customers can catch up anywhere, anytime, on their TV or favourite device.

Live stream the inaugural Downer Rugby League World Cup 9's Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >

Fox Sports will also delivering all games of the tournament live on Fox League.

ODDS

Australia are red-hot favourites for the competition at $1.85, with New Zealand ($4.25), England ($6), Samoa ($12), Tonga ($13) and Fiji ($15) the six sides inside $40 to win the tournament.

News Corp Australia

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