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Nines can grow rugby league globally, says Kiwis coach

Less may be more for rugby league's developing nations, according to Kiwis coach Michael Maguire ahead of the weekend's World Cup Nines in Parramatta.

The free-wheeling nature of the nine-a-side format should suit Maguire's squad, but he said the tournament had potentially greater long-term for their rivals.

Both Lebanon and Tonga will field outfits at the 12-team event despite ongoing tension between the nation's respective boards and their high-profile players.

Maguire won an NRL Nines title with South Sydney but, with that in mind, says the format works better on the international stage.

"I've spent 18 months now in the Kiwi space and ... once you get involved and understand the enormity of the international game and where it can go, it's one aspect of the game that can really grow," the coach said.

"That's where the game and improvement of various areas of that international space can grow, get the right processes in place.

"If you get the right processes in place the international game will prosper.

"You see the whole community get behind them (when developing nations play); this will enhance that and we've got to keep growing it."

The Cook Islands, United States, France, Papua New Guinea and Wales are among 12 teams that will feature at Bankwest Stadium against the code's traditional powerhouses.

Shaun Johnson, Kodi Nikorima, Briton Nikora and Dylan Brown should all be factors in the open spaces over the weekend for New Zealand and Maguire is quietly confident.

"We're going to make sure it's one hell of a spectacle," Maguire said.

"I'm very excited ... we're going to have a shot at it.

"When the boys put the Kiwi jersey on it's very special to everyone."

The Nines format returns after the Auckland Nines was last played in 2017. Source: Photosport


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