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Meninga wary of underdog Nines threats

As far as Mal Meninga's concerned, the World Cup Nines will be won on attitude and if Australia's goes missing in the party atmosphere at Bankwest Stadium this weekend, so too could their shot at the inaugural trophy.

Meninga is one of the few coaches that can claim to know a thing about coaching the shortened format of the game at an international level.

He took Australia's first ever Nines team to Fiji in 1996 during the Super League war, and watched on as New Zealand and Papua New Guinea played in the decider while the Kangaroos were knocked out in the semis.

"It's pretty prestigious from a playing point of view. But we've got a sense of fun to it all," Meninga told AAP.

"I don't think it's too dissimilar to 13-a-side structurally. There is an opportunity to use your skills and speed and turn on the burners as well.

"But defence wins games, and it's no different in Nines. Effort on effort defensively is really important.

"Getting a good kick game, all the things you need to do in a 13s game you still need to do. But you have to do it at a higher intensity for a shorter period of time."

Global rugby league has come a long way since that point when Meninga first coached Australia in 1996 as well.

This time Australia are in a group with New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the USA. Two will advance, although much of the focus will be on Pool C.

It's there in which Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands face off in a battle of the Pacific, with only one team advancing through to Saturday night's semi-finals.

"It's a great equaliser," Meninga said.

"You see the Pacific Islands and PNG, they will have a tremendous tournament with their speed and their ability to excite people.

"They'll worry the big three's defences.

"It's a tournament where some underdogs might come through and win it. If we don't play well and with the right attitude, we could be beaten."

In all, there will be 75 NRL players on show across the 12 men's teams and the world's best female players.

Outside of Australia, New Zealand, England and Tonga have all the power up front while Fiji shape as the most dangerous in broken play with the likes of Maika Sivo and Suliasi Vunivalu.

The Bati also arrive knowing they have a reputation to uphold, with Fiji a permanent powerhouse of rugby union's World Sevens Series.

"It will be like another touch game for the boys ... A bit of free play," hooker Api Koroisau said.

"We've got a lot of backs in this side and a lot of boys who can do special things."

NINES RULES

* Nine players per side, nine minutes halves

* Five-tackle sets

* Five-point tries in the bonus zone under the posts

* Drop kick conversions

* 20-40 kicks

* Draws decided by golden try

* Three-minute sin-bins

© AAP 2019