Fri, Oct 13, 9:47am by Staff Writer
With the NRL season all wrapped up, attentions now turn to the upcoming Rugby League World Cup. Matches will be played across three countries with Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea hosting games. With Australia and England reigniting their rivalry in Melbourne to kick off the tournament on 27th October.
The traditional top 3 Rugby League nations, Australia, New Zealand and England, dominate the markets in the lead up. It is the Kangaroos, the current holders, who are heavy favourites ($1.20) to lift consecutive trophies.
Australia’s dominance at International level was threatened by New Zealand, who won the World Cup in 2008. Although ahead of this tournament, the Kangaroos have been in fine form against their closest rivals. The Kiwis have struggled to repeat those performances in recent ANZAC Tests and Four Nations games. Despite being humbled 34-2 in the last World Cup Final against Australia they stand at $8 to win this year’s edition.
They are joined on the same price by England who are looking for their first World Cup win since the Great Britain squad was split. Indeed, they have not made a Final since 1995, a fact that will hurt the birthplace of the code. England’s appointment of Wayne Bennett may give them the insider knowledge to get them past the semi-final stage.
Outside of the top 3, there will be little hope of realistically winning the tournament as many of the sides rely heavily only a few professional players. Fiji reached consecutive semi-finals in 2008 and 2013 and will be aiming to do so again. Although that is not a certainty with other Pacific nations improving vastly in recent years. They stand at $81 to win the World Cup.
Tonga ($21) and Samoa ($67) will certainly be heading into this year’s Rugby League World Cup with high expectations. As they both named squads littered with star names.
Jason Taumalolo, who continues to excel for the North Queensland Cowboys, will be a huge boost for Tonga. As will prop Andrew Fifita who has withdrawn from the Kangaroos squad to join up with them. The pedigree of those two players alone will lift the whole squad.
Whilst Samoa’s hopes have been dented by a number of withdrawals due to injury including Anthony Milford. There is still plenty of tried and tested NRL talent in the squad to mount a challenge for the World Cup.
Elsewhere, the other sides, unfortunately are likely to be also rans having little effect on the outcome of the tournament. They will, however, have their sights on some shocks in the Pool stages. Scotland ($501) made history drawing with New Zealand in the Four Nations, Lebanon ($501) will be looking for inspiration from Robbie Farah whilst Italy ($151) will be hoping Australia’s rejection of James Tedesco is to their benefit.
Rugby League World Cup 2017 – Sportsbet
New Zealand $8
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