Nines is a variant of rugby league ©Getty Images

Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) chairman Nigel Wood said a nine-a-side World Cup could be held in 2019.

The variant of the sport - known as nines - is becoming increasingly popular around the world.

Wood told Australia's Daily Telegraph that plans could be confirmed before the start of the 13-a-side World Cup in October.

"The idea would be to do something in 2019," Wood said.

"It's too premature to say how many nations there would be or how it's structured.

"All we have formally resolved is that the concept is one we want to look at and develop, and explore the viability and commerciality of it.

"We think it's a good way of bringing some of the tier-two and tier-three nations into the public domain more than we do at the moment.

"And in that form of the game you could play everyone against everyone else.

Australia's women playing New Zealand in a nines match ©Getty Images
Australia's women playing New Zealand in a nines match ©Getty Images

"That's not necessarily the case when you come to 13-a-side - you wouldn't expect some of the emerging nations to take on the tier-one nations in 13-a-side, but with the nines there's a terrific opportunity to explore the potential.

"I'd be disappointed if by the start of the World Cup we weren't clear about what we were doing in 2019 and how it would work and how the nations would qualify."

Nines features shorter matches with other rules of the sport also differing.

The Auckland Nines, ran in the New Zealand city by Australasia's top organisation National Rugby League, is one major competition.

Rugby union - the other code of rugby - has experienced great success with its variant of the sport, sevens.

The discipline debuted at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.