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England coach Wayne Bennett believes the World Cup 9s will do wonders for the international game if the concept is given a chance to make an imprint.

Twelve men's and four women's teams will compete in the inaugural tournament this Friday and Saturday, with a motza of established and rising stars aiming to light up Bankwest Stadium.

The shortened format has been on hiatus since the NRL Auckland Nines was axed after four editions in 2017.

Bennett hopes the World Cup 9s becomes a regular event.

"We've got a history of getting out of things too quick. Hopefully, we'll stay with it and add something to the rugby league calendar," Bennett said.

"It's good for all the nations to be here and give young guys opportunities without actually playing full international [games].

"It's great to see all the teams and the women are here. It's not easy to do, obviously there's a bit of expense involved, but we've just got to be consistent with it and have the confidence that it can work for us and grow the game."

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The South Sydney mentor hosed down suggestions Nines football and Test matches are an overload on players following the arduous NRL season.

"I don't think it's too tough at all. Every year now we're playing internationals somewhere in the world," Bennett said.

"I don't think it's an issue personally. Players have allocated time off now and they want to play internationals. That's the bottom line here - they want to play for their countries and we shouldn't deny them that opportunity."

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England will field a formidable Nines side including Gareth Widdop, George Williams, James Graham, Ryan Hall and Blake Austin.

The obvious absentee forward Sam Burgess, who has also been ruled out of Great Britain's first tour in 12 years due to a persistent shoulder injury.

Bennett insisted his Rabbitohs captain will be fine to suit up in 2020 despite fears for the 30-year-old's future.

"[Sam's shoulder] is bad enough for him not to be here to play but he'll have work done on it and see where it goes from there," Bennett said.

Dragons prop Graham has taken over as England skipper from Burgess - and Bennett said the veteran is most deserving of the honour.

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In addition to leading the nation in the Nines, Graham will play his 50th overall Test when Great Britain meet Tonga later this month.

"He epitomises what England are about. He wants to be here, he does his best, he plays tough football all season," Bennett said.

As for how the 34-year-old's legs will handle the helter-skelter nature of Nines?

"They're slow but they'll go," quipped Bennett.


For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to

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