Former NRL star Justin Hodges has called for the popular Rugby League Nines concept to be expanded to the global stage, potentially having a Nines World Cup in future years.
The NRL host a Nines event at the start of every season, and there was a Commonwealth Rugby League Championship held in Glasgow in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games two years ago.
But now Hodges, speaking on NRL.com, says he would like to see a Nines World Cup to see the sport grow, following the success of Rugby Sevens at this year’s Rio Olympics.
He said: “It’s impossible to watch our Australian athletes performing so well at the Olympic Games and not wonder how rugby league can increase its relevance on the world stage. In my opinion our next step should be to introduce a Rugby League Nines World Cup.
“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.
“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.
“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.”