The 2021 Rugby League World Cup is going to be a great occasion to look forward to next year. 16 teams, two more than in the 2017 edition, are set to take part in England.
Bookmakers have already opened up betting so here is a look at who they believe have the best chance of lifting the trophy.
Australia long odds-on to defend crown
Australia have dominated the Rugby League World Cup since its inauguration in 1954. They have won the trophy on 11 occasions, including eight of the last nine tournaments.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Aussies are the 2/7 favourites in the rugby league betting to defend their trophy.
The Kangaroos were successful in the Oceania Cup in 2019, finishing ahead of New Zealand and Tonga in the table in that competition. The pick of their wins last year was their 26-4 victory over New Zealand.
Although many of their rivals have made good progress over the last four years, Australia are still the number one side in international rugby league by some distance. Many of their star players will be used to conditions in England, so they are the team to beat at the biggest tournament in the sport.
New Zealand 6/1 to repeat 2008 success
One of the biggest surprises in recent memory at the World Cup is New Zealand’s 34-20 success over Australia in the 2008 final. Australia were heavy favourites in that game but they were stunned in front of their home crowd.
The Kiwis could only make it through to the quarter-finals in 2017 so they will have something to prove in England. They are second best in the outright market at 6/1.
For those looking to take on Australia, New Zealand look the obvious choice. They beat Great Britain twice in 2019 and recorded victory over Tonga at the Oceania Cup.
Although they would be underdogs against Australia if they were to face their rivals, they would not fear the Kangaroos.
Hosts England 13/2 to lift trophy in front of home crowd
The big advantage England will have next year is the majority of the crowd at their games will be supporting the Three Lions.
England gave Australia a good run for their money in the 2017 final where they went down 6-0. Although they were unable to score any points in an unusual encounter, they did neutralise Australia’s impressive attacking threat.
Shaun Wane’s side had an excellent home series victory over New Zealand in 2018, then under Wayne Bennett, prevailing 2-1. They defeated the Kiwis 20-14 at Anfield in the second game of that series to secure the Baskerville Shield.
At 13/2 in the betting, England will be many people’s each-way bet of the tournament. If they can pull off the win, it will be their maiden success at the World Cup since they competed as an individual nation.
The 2021 Rugby League Cup will be officially underway on October 23, 2021, following the opening ceremony, which will be held at St James’ Park in Newcastle.