Hodges calls for Nines World Cup

Former Kangaroos and Queensland centre Justin Hodges says rugby league should introduce a Nines World Cup to help the game grow internationally.

Writing for NRL.com, Hodges said: “Next year’s Rugby League World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea will be a great showcase of the game but if we are to put rugby league in a position to compete for Commonwealth Games or Olympic glory we need to find a way to be more inclusive.

“The emergence of the Nines concept has been hugely successful through the Auckland Nines and there was even a Commonwealth Rugby League Championship held in Glasgow two years ago in the lead-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“As they have in the Rio Games, rugby sevens will feature at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and while it’s a shame rugby league won’t figure, it shows a path we should try to follow.

“We’ve come a long way with the Auckland Nines tournament in the past three years; why not open it up to the rest of the world? In terms of growing our game, that’s what it’s all about.

“Cricket’s T20 format features a World Cup every two years and they are now being invited to participate in future Olympic Games; we don’t need to be that far behind.

“It was fantastic to see the Aussie girls claim gold in the rugby sevens this week and our own Jillaroos and the Kiwi Ferns have shown in their games in Auckland that they can put on a sporting contest just as entertaining and just as skilful.

“We’ve got both men’s and women’s teams now and it would be a great spectacle but everyone has to put their heads together to see how we can make this work. If it does work it will be fantastic for our game.

“With the World Cup format as it stands it is difficult for emerging nations such as Jamaica, Canada, Spain and Serbia to qualify let alone be competitive but a nines tournament would invite an even greater pool of countries to take part and gain invaluable experience playing against the game’s very best.

“It seems incredible to me that teams representing Chile and El Salvador played a 13-a-side game in Sydney in June and I have no doubt that if rugby league was able to showcase itself globally that we could attract some amazing athletes from all over the world to play our game.”

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