Kalyn Ponga would be a major drawcard for the inaugural Nines World Cup next year. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Kalyn Ponga would be a major drawcard for the inaugural Nines World Cup next year. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Ponga pulling power: Nines WC needs the game’s best drawcards

The NRL is hoping the game's best players will play in next year's inaugural Nines World Cup which is likely to be staged in Sydney.

The tournament was a key plank in the calendar agreed in-principle by the Rugby League International Federation in the UK on Sunday (Australian AEST).

While the fine details have not yet been agreed upon, it's planned that the tournament will be held at the end of the NRL season.

The new $300-million 30,000-seat Western Sydney Stadium - which will open in April next year - has been pencilled in as a possible venue.

It's also expected to feature men's and women's competitions.

It's believed that the NRL is hoping the Nines World Cup will be able to attract the best players from across the NRL and the English Super League.

The Auckland Nines - which was run from 2014 to 2017 before being scrapped - was beset by problems as the organisers failed to convince clubs to field their top line players.

However it's expected that there will be a willingness from the NRL to pull the best players from across the globe.

An Australian side could feature the likes of excitement machines Josh Addo-Carr, James Roberts, Kalyn Ponga and Damien Cook.

Many particulars - including how many teams, prize money and whether Test team coaches will also oversee their team's Nines campaign - have not been finalised.

The Super League staged a World Nines in Fiji in 1996 and Townsville in 1997, but the concept was scrapped after the game's reunification.

The tournament - and other aspects of the rolling eight-year calendar - are still subject to consultation with the players' union and leagues.

The Rugby League Players' Association said it was still waiting for more information.

The Nines World Cup will be one of the highlights of the 2019 international calendar which will also feature the Oceania Cup between Australia, New Zealand and Tonga.

As well, England will embark on a southern hemisphere tour and will take on the Kiwis, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.