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The men's and women's captains for the World Cup 9s.

Rugby league players spend their careers preparing to play 80 minutes once a week, so the challenge of four or five 18-minute matches over a weekend presents a different challenge.

Australian coaches Brad Donald (Jillaroos) and Mal Meninga (Kangaroos) spoke of how they were approaching the modified game on Thursday, with Donald describing the tactics as "totally different".

"Our performance staff have been working overtime, and our coaching staff, just making sure the rotations are right and you maximise the four reserves," Donald said.

"If you end up with someone on the field who's gassed it's really hard to save them so we've done a lot of work this week on our rotations, we've done a lot of work on our warm-ups …  if you have three games over a period of six hours, that's not something we're used to."

Meninga said based on the understanding gained from several years of Auckland Nines, the work-rate of players in their time on field is significantly higher than regular NRL and more comparable to State of Origin – albeit over shorter bursts.

DCE keeping Garrick under his wing

"We've looked at that and trained accordingly," Meninga said.

"We've only had minimal training but those sessions have been around that intensity to allow the players to understand and feel what it's like to play that intensity.

"We've got players that can play pretty good minutes, good mobility, good engines which you need to play at that intensity.

"They're well aware of where they need to be and we have the unlimited interchange as well which will be instrumental in how we get through all the games."

Australia wary of England as Nines dark horse

Donald said he anticipated making an interchange at almost every stoppage in play, while Meninga said he would likely use his bench after every try.

The Kangaroos said there is also an opportunity to make changes any time his side was in possession.

Kangaroos co-captain Daly Cherry-Evans is no stranger to Origin intensity given six of his Origins have come in the run-on side and he has also played in the Auckland Nines with Manly.

He said he would relish the chance to play in situations where fatigue is a huge factor.

"There's going to be a high element of fatigue but I truly believe a lot of the battle's going to be mental," he said.

"Just mentally talking to yourself to make sure you are feeling fresh, telling yourself you have more left in the tank.

"The further you go in the competition and the higher the stakes are, we're playing for a World Cup, fatigue will be an issue but when the stakes are that high, you just want to play your best footy.

World Cup 9s set for Australian first

"I've felt that experience before in a game of running that high speed, high intensity," he said.

"Origin's sustained at a longer period of time so I can definitely wrap my head around laying it all out there, then having a break.

"It's easy to understand if you go as hard as you can for as long as you can, it's no trouble at all to go for a break whereas Origin you have to wait until half time or full time."

Cherry-Evans said the side had discussed its plans around rotations and while he wasn't revealing any game plans it is likely he would job share with fellow No.7 Mitch Moses rather than sharing the field.

A host of other utility playmakers such as hooker Ben Hunt and fullbacks Clint Gutherson, Kalyn Ponga and AJ Brimson could also step into the role on the fly.


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

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