Nines World Cup Home Nations Preview

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England

England’s men are a side with some experience of playing nines, with a few players that have been involved in the NRL’s annual nines tournament.

The likes of Tom Burgess, Ryan Hall, James Graham, Blake Austin, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead and Gareth Widdop, even former NRL player Sam Tomkins all have experience in playing in the Australian heat, and some have even played in the Nines tournament itself.

As for the Super League lads, this will be a first for them, playing a much faster brand of rugby league.

There is a lot of talent in that England side, but they have perhaps taken a risk in not including any players from the Super League grand finalists St Helens and Salford Red Devils.

This was due to the Grand Final being so close to the departure time for the squad to head out to Australia.

However, there is still a plethora of talent in the squad selected by Wayne Bennett, and they will go in with high expectations.

They are in a group with Wales, France and Lebanon, a group where they will be the favourites to advance, but they cannot take anything for granted in this format.

As for the Women, they do also  include some players from the grand finalists Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos.

Kelsey Gentles, Tara Stanley, Rhiannon Marshall, Sinead Peach, Shona Hoyle, Georgia Roche, Caitlin Beevers and Danielle Anderson all finished the Grand Final and jumped on the plane almost straightaway.

There is a real blend of youth and experience in this side, and that blend makes for a dangerous combination.

They are in a tough four team group with Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Wales

The Welsh come into this with a squad headed by Super League Grand Final winner Regan Grace and plenty of first grade experience.

Two London Broncos stars Rhys Williams and captain Elliot Kear have also been selected.

The rest of the squad comes from the second tier of English rugby league with only Will Evans (Burleigh Bears), James Olds (Wests Panthers) and Lloyd White (Mackay Cutters) coming from Australia.

They are in a pool with England, France and Lebanon. It will be a challenge for them to get out of the group, but this format can bring up some surprise results.

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