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Twenty-six men's and six women's teams will compete in Saturday's Cabramatta International Nines.

Vietnam's first representative tackle rugby league team is among a smorgasbord of emerging nations playing in Saturday's Cabramatta International Nines.

Cultures from around the world will be represented at New Era Stadium for the 18th annual edition of the tournament, with 32 sides (26 men's and six women's) taking part in the modified format.

Japan, Turkey and Papua New Guinea squads will fly from overseas to play in the men's division.

They'll join outfits like Columbia, Africa United, Ireland, Tonga NSW, Niue, Malta, Koori, Chile, Ozzy Cooks, Philippines, Federazione Italiana Rugby League Australia, ASEAN, Wentworthville, Glebe-Burwood, Campbelltown City, All Saints Liverpool and Cabramatta.

Many of the players compete in strong amatuer leagues throughout Queensland and NSW, such as the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield, and have ambitions to reach the top level.

Twenty-six men's teams will compete in Saturday's Cabramatta International Nines.
Twenty-six men's teams will compete in Saturday's Cabramatta International Nines. ©RLIF

The women's competition is comprised of Malta, Philippines, Niue, Cabra, Latin Heat and Ozzy Cooks, while physical disability teams will face off in exhibition matches.

"We've got a fair amount of interest from a diverse range of the community," NRL international development manager Tas Baitieri told

"Sport is the key element that brings people together. Especially these new markets, they see the game on TV and they want to try the game, they want to try to tackle, pass, score tries.

"We're providing an opportunity. It's a pathway too. This is a stepping stone from grassroots to NRL standards.

Six women's teams will compete in the Cabramatta International Nines.
Six women's teams will compete in the Cabramatta International Nines. ©RLIF

"It's also providing an opportunity for international sport when we're looking at World Cups or Oceania Cups.

"These teams one day will be looking for World Cup qualifications and some of these players could be in there."

The Nines tournament has proven a great platform to develop the game in countries where rugby league hasn't been prevalent.

Vietnam Rugby League eventually wants to establish competitions at home amid growing interest in the sport, with plans to springboard off the Cabramatta experience and host a 13-a-side fixture in October.

"The opposition might be Thailand, where we're playing already, Laos or Cambodia," Baitieri said.

"That's how [rugby league's] footprint in the Asian market is going.

"We've got Vietnamese players in junior rugby league, but this is the first time we've brought them together as one team."

One major award (the Cup) and three minor pieces of silverware (the Trophy, Plate and Bowl) are on the line in the men's division, with pool rankings after a round-robin to decide who plays off for what.

The women will also jostle for the Cup. Total prize money of $15,000 is up for grabs and sides have the option to donate their takings to the bushfire or drought appeal.

"I've already had more than 50 percent of the teams say they'll be donating whatever money they win to the bushfire or drought appeal under the NRL," Baitieri said.

The Cabramatta International Nines action kicks off from 10am Saturday and concludes with the men's Cup final at 7:45pm. Matches will go for 18 minutes.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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