The side who claimed the title for the first time after thumping Queensland Kukis 41-15 last year have been preparing for about two weeks in a bid to defend the title.
However Panthers coach Darren Piri said winning the Nines title second year in a row would not be an easy task.
“I think all teams are coming with the mission to win this tournament and we are wary of all of them. They all will be tough but we look forward to the competition,” Piri said.
“We have been in training for about two weeks but getting the players together has been mission. There is no overseas-based players for this tournament, only the local boys who featured for us in the past season.”
The Panthers will take on Aitutaki Sharks, who are making their return to the tournament, in the opening match at 2pm today.
The side will play Arorangi Bears in the second match before battling Titikaveka Bulldogs today.
Tomorrow, the Panthers will face two tough battles against the reigning 13s champion Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles and former champions Avatiu Eels.
The Sea Eagles after their historic win last year are the other favourites for the Nines title.
Meanwhile Cook Islands Rugby League has managed to get a new naming sponsor of the Nines tournament.
League coordinator Tai Nelio said: “Teina and Annie Bishop of Bishops Cruises and Aitutaki Village are the 2020 Nines major sponsor.”
Nelio said the tournament would be called the Bishops Cruises Rugby League Nines in Paradise.
“Teina is very happy to sponsor the Nines event and wishes all teams the best of luck.”
The two-day tournament will feature six teams – five clubs from Rarotonga and Aitutaki – as well as two women’s teams, Town and Country.
Admission for adults is $5 and for children gold coin donation.
Today – 2pm Tupapa Panthers-Aitutaki Sharks, 2.20pm Avatiu Eels-Arorangi Bears, 2.40pm Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles-Titikaveka Bulldogs, 3pm Panthers-Bears, 3.20pm Sharks-Bulldogs, 3.40pm Eels-Sea Eagles, 4pm Town Girls-Country Girls, 4.20pm Panthers-Bulldogs, 4.40pm Bears-Sea Eagles, 5pm Sharks-Eels
Tomorrow – 12.20pm Panthers-Sea Eagles, 12.40pm Bulldogs-Eels, 1pm Bears-Sharks, 1.20pm Panthers-Eels, 1.40pm Sea Eagles-Sharks, 2pm Bulldogs-Bears, 2.20pm Town Girls-Country Girls, 3pm Semi-final 1, 3.20pm Semi-final 2, 3.40pm Fifth place playoff, 4.20pm Town Girls-Country Girls, 4.40pm Third place playoff, 5pm Grand finale, 5.20pm Presentations