Mitchell Moses offloads at an Australian training session in Sydney this week. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Mitchell Moses offloads at an Australian training session in Sydney this week. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Aussie men and women look the goods in World Cup Nines

Fox League's Corey Parker previews the World Nines

THERE are three guarantees in life - death, taxes and the fact the action will be thick and fast at the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines on Friday night and Saturday.

Looking across the 12 teams in the men's draw and the four teams competing for the women's title, there's X-factors across the board.

So who will win the inaugural Rugby League World Cup Nines? This is how I see the two day tournament playing out.

How to play the game

Although each side has four fewer players on the field, the field dimensions remain the same.

Teams who win the battle in the middle third are going to give themselves the best chance of utilising the extra space out wide.

There will be a temptation for playmakers to try and go too wide too early, but teams still have to do the hard yards through the middle before they can enjoy the fruits of their labour on the edge.

The rules

While the majority of rules remain the same as the 13-a-side game, there are a few changes that will get fans excited.

Five-point, bonus-zone tries encourage teams to play more of a running style of game rather than rely on kicking to wingers for points.

In addition to the 40-20 there will also be a 20-40 rule in play for the tournament, meaning fullbacks and those defending on the flanks will need to be on their toes.

Drop-kick conversions will also test teams out.

Those with field-goal specialist such as Daly Cherry-Evans, Gareth Widdop and Shaun Johnson will be licking their lips at the prospect, but you can guarantee plenty of players would have been practising their drop kicks this week.

Players to watch

We've seen the chaos Kalyn Ponga can create in the 13-a-side game, so you can imagine how dangerous he will be with the extra space at his disposal.

The same can be said for Shaun Johnson, who we've seen dominate this form of the game in previous years.

Try-scoring machine Maika Sivo will be the go-to man for the Fijian side, as will Sam Tomkins for the English.

But don't rule out the big men either.

On the surface this form of rugby league looks like a game built for speed, but those forwards with an off-load in them such as Andrew Fifita, Jason Taumalolo, Briton Nikora and Viliame Kikau will prove more than a handful.

In the women's competition, Jessica Sergis will be looking to continue her stellar year when she suits up for the Australian side.

Sergis was a standout in the NRLW tournament this year and a deserving winner of the Dally M Female Player of the Year award.

The Kiwis will be relying on the attacking prowess of New Zealand Warriors hooker Krystal Rota, who led the NRLW this year in try and line-break assists.

And keep an eye out for England's Georgia Roache, who won the Women of Steele award this year after leading Leeds to the Women's Super League premiership.

The winners

I really like the look of the New Zealand and Tongan sides in the men's tournament, but it's hard to tip against an Australian side that has Ponga, Cherry-Evans and Wade Graham in it.

On the women's side of the competition I'm again going to give the Aussies a slight edge over the New Zealand team. The form of Jess Sergis and Ali Brigginshaw in the NRWL this year is just too good to ignore.

 

Don't miss the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines with every game LIVE, ad-break free during play and in HD on FOX LEAGUE and streamed on Foxtel Now.