International boss considers taking nines to America and Middle East

Middle East
Kyle Feldt of Australia celebrates scoring a try in the men's final against New Zealand at Bankwest Stadium.

Kyle Feldt of Australia celebrates scoring a try in the men’s final against New Zealand at Bankwest Stadium.Credit:AAP

And with that in mind, he sees the format opening the door to the USA, Europe and lucrative Middle East.

“North America is a possibility, the Middle East is a possibility and definitely Europe,” Wood said.

“Nines is a very important opportunity because it can take the sport into countries that aren’t necessarily familiar with the 13-a-side game, and complexities of the 13-a-side game and 80-minute windows of contests.

“It’s not necessarily the easiest way to start the journey of rugby league for a new country, whereas nines gives you the opportunity to do that.”

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If the format of the sport is taken on the road, Wood suggested it might not always involve front-line NRL and Super League players but rather emerging teams.

“This is a very valuable new property … I think nines is a very important aspect of the sport.

“This is the first of the two-cycle World Cup, we’ve got the agreement to stage it in 2023.

“I think it’s capable of more than that, We’ve seen its popular, it can present the game in a very different way.

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“There may be different ways to deliver competitions. It might not always involve elite players but it’s a concept that cannot be neglected. It’s too important to us.”

Meanwhile, the format got the tick of approval from Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, who is a firm believer it can be used to grow the game globally.

“It can only get better,” Meninga said.

“We had to have small steps and I think the start of it all, and the players, we considered a bit of pioneering for the nines. I thought it worked really well.

“I honestly believe it’s a showpiece for expressing ourselves of rugby league around the world.”

AAP

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