Cook Islands captain Alex Glenn.

Cook Islands captain Alex Glenn hopes the upcoming World Nines could be the start of a Tonga-style movement that leads to eligible players opting for the Kukis over tier-one nations.

At full strength the Cooks could potentially call on the likes of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Joseph Manu, Zane Tetevano, Esan Marsters, Brad Takairangi and Marata Niukore.

Glenn – who skippered the Kukis in 2017 and will do so again in the World Nines at Bankwest Stadium on October 18-19 – hopes to see a rise in the tiny island nation's rugby league influence in the coming years.

"We've got a lot of NRL stars that are Cook Islanders that can put their hand up for our team," Glenn told NRL.com.

"If we get our full-strength squad we can make a movement like the Tongan nation did a couple of years ago when Jase Taumalolo and all the other big names went there.

"The thing is with the Cookies, we don't get enough games throughout the year with all our boys but that's the standard.

"I want to put my hand up for this nation and try and get our big-name players to put their hand up as well because I believe we can make a huge impact on the international game if we get our strong side together.

"The Nines is going to be the first step, obviously the World Cup qualifier against the USA after that."

He said it is a "huge honour" to captain his country.

"To lead the team out, it would be something to hold close to my heart. I was fortunate to do it against PNG [in 2017]," he said.

"It was a bit emotional to be honest to represent myself, my family, my kids, my country. There's a lot of people that are supporting you and behind you and you just want to do them proud, play the best you can and represent your nation."

The Cooks crushed South Africa in their mid-year World Cup qualifier, with Glenn sidelined with injury. The short lay-off also forced him out of Brisbane's huge loss to the Eels in round 14, meaning he is yet to play at the new western Sydney stadium.

"We're all very excited about what the weekend's going to bring and we're very lucky to have it at Bankwest Stadium as well," he said.

"Everyone who's played there this year says it's one of the best in the competition. To have this competition there at Parramatta is going to be amazing for players and fans and we're just excited to see the vibe."

The Downer Rugby League World Cup 9's shortened format should play into the hands of smaller nations like Cook Islands who have some very skilful players but less time together to work on game plans, according to Glenn, who has experienced the format with Brisbane at the Auckland Nines.

"The thing with Nines, it's not very structured so you can't really train too much for it," he said.

"Pretty much go out there, throw the ball around and see what you can do. There's going to be a lot of individual talent out there as well as team efforts, it's going to be amazing for our style of play.

"We have a lot of footwork, a lot of speed and explosiveness which will really suit Pacific Nations football."

The weekend will be a huge opportunity for the code overall, Glenn added.

"It's something new and exciting for the fans but even for us players as well, we've all seen the NRL Nines and how much fun that was so to do it internationally I think it's going to be amazing for our game and I can't wait.

"It's honestly like backyard footy as a kid and that's what football's about. Sometimes all the pressure that's going on [in the NRL] you can forget about having fun out there."

 

For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to nrl.com/tickets.