TWO POWERHOUSE NATIONS TO KICK OFF 2017 WORLD CUP
Rugby League World Cup 2017
Fourteen nations, 28 games, 13 cities, but only 1 champion.
The 2017 Rugby League World Cup kicks off this Friday, as the World Champions, Australia, host bitter rivals, England, at Melbourne’s AAMI Park. Australia are co-hosts of this year’s tournament, along with New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
In Australia the games will be in: Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane and Canberra.
In New Zealand, host cities are: Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch. All the Papua New Guinea games will be in the Capital City of Port Moresby.
Australia are the World Champions, after winning the 2013 World Cup, 34-2 over New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester. Australia are also ranked No.1 in the World, following last year’s Four Nations triumph at Anfield in Liverpool.
Australia’s squad has seven Melbourne Storm players, on the back of their Premiership triumph earlier this month. Jordan McLean, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi are all in line to make their test debuts. Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk were also selected.
With Johnathan Thurston unavailable due to a shoulder injury, the No.6 jersey is now vacant. Munster, James Maloney, and Thurston’s club teammate, Michael Morgan are all in contention to fill the void. Darius Boyd was ruled out early, and Josh Mansour has been named as his replacement, while Mansour’s Penrith teammate, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, replaces Andrew Fifita.
The England squad features many NRL stars, including Sam and Tom Burgess, Gareth Widdop, James Graham, Elliott Whitehead, Josh Hodgson and Chris Heighington. They are also coached by supercoach, Wayne Bennett. Wigan Warriors star, Sean O’Loughlin is their captain.
Fiji are also littered with NRL stars, with Jarryd Hayne to represent Fiji for the first time since the 2008 World Cup. Fiji have made the semi-finals in the last two World Cups, only to lose to Australia both times. Also featuring for the Bati include, Melbourne superstar winger, Suliasi Vunivalu, Ashton and Korbin Sims, Akuila Uate, Apisai Koroisau, and Captain, Kevin Naiqama.Other NRL stars include, Taane Milne, Tui Kamikamica, Viliame Kikau, Kane Evans and Marcelo Montoya.
There has been a lot of talk about Tonga’s squad too, and don’t be surprised if they manage to upset New Zealand. The addition of Fifita, and Taumalolo has only added to the quality squad that Tonga has selected.
New Zealand were forced to pick many rookies following the unavailability of Kieran Foran, plus coach David Kidwell decided to stand down Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor, following their mid- year drug scandal. Their squad has many rookies, including Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Brad Takairangi, Isaac Liu, Danny Levi and Addin Fonua-Blake.
Scotland, are coming off a great Four Nations campaign last year, being the first nation to get a point off the best three nations in the world. Unfortunately for them, they won’t be fielding that same side, where they had many NRL players in their side, with Lachlan Coote, Kane Linnett, Euan Aitken, Peter Wallace, all unavailable.
Lebanon are in their first World Cup since 2000 and will be led by veteran Robbie Farah. The squad also features, Tim Mannah, Mitchell Moses, Michael Lichaa, and Alex Twal.
Many of the French squad come from the Catalan Dragons Super League side, and will be looking to once again make the Quarter Finals like in 2013 where they made the final 8 despite recording just one win.
USA, also were the surprise packets of the 2013 World Cup, making the Quarter Finals in their very first Cup campaign, only to lose to eventual World Champs, Australia, 62-0, in Wrexham, can they go further in 2017?
Italy also have a pretty handy squad, with veteran Mark Minichiello to lead the side, featuring NRL stars, James Tedesco, Paul Vaughan, Daniel Alvaro and Nathan Brown. Former Canberra Raiders Captain Terry Campese, and nephew of Newcastle Knights Legend, Andrew Johns, Jack will also represent the Azzurri.
Ireland had a tough pool in the last World Cup, facing Australia, England and Fiji, and failed to record a win. They will be looking to improve on that in 2017. Tyrone McCarthy, Shannon McDonnell, James Hasson and Api Pewhairangi are the only Irish players to have NRL experience.
Finally, PNG, will be primed for a good World Cup Campaign, after winning the Intrust Super Premiership Competition in Queensland. They will host games in their home capital of Port Moresby, in a World Cup for the very first time, and their opener against Wales on Saturday afternoon is already a sellout. Rugby League is PNG’s National Sport.
It should be an interesting six weeks of rugby league so enjoy it, because it’s the last league you will see until March 2018. All games of the 2017 World Cup will be on Channel 7 and 7Mate.
There has been many controversies, with eligibility rules, with Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita, opting to represent Tonga, instead of New Zealand and Australia respectively.
The World Cup Final , will be on Saturday December 2, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Last time the World Cup Final was held there, was back in 2008, where New Zealand upset Australia 34-20, to win their First World Cup.
The format of the Quarter Finals of the World Cup is
1st, 2nd and 3rd from Groups A & B advance, while in Groups C & D, only 1st advances.
World Cup Fixtures, 27th October to 2nd December
Australia v England, Friday 8.00pm, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Papua New Guinea v Wales, Saturday 4.00pm, Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
New Zealand v Samoa, Saturday 6.00pm, Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Fiji v USA, Saturday 8.40pm, 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
Ireland v Italy, Sunday 3.00pm, Barlow Park, Cairns
France v Lebanon, Sunday 4.00pm, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Scotland v Tonga, Sunday 5.15pm, Barlow Park, Cairns
Lineups for the First Week of the World Cup can be found here
Australia v France, Friday 3rd November, 8.00pm, GIO Stadium, Canberra
New Zealand v Scotland, Saturday 4th November, 3.00pm, Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
Samoa v Tonga, Saturday 4th November, 5.30pm, Waikato Stadium Hamilton
England v Lebanon, Saturday 4th November, 8.00pm, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Papua New Guinea v Ireland, Sunday 5th November, 5.00pm, Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
Italy v USA, Sunday 5th November, 5.00pm, 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
Fiji v Wales, Sunday 5th November, 7.30pm, 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
Fiji v Italy, Friday 10th November, 7.40pm, GIO Stadium, Canberra
New Zealand v Tonga, Saturday 11th November 3.00pm, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Samoa v Scotland, Saturday 11th November, 6.00pm, Barlow Park, Cairns
Australia v Lebanon, Saturday 11th November, 8.00pm, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Papua New Guinea v USA, Sunday 12th November, 4.00pm, Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
Wales v Ireland, Sunday 12th November, 6.30pm, nib Stadium, Perth
England v France, Sunday 12th November, 9.00pm, nib Stadium, Perth
1st Quarter Final Winner Group A v 3rd Place Group B, Friday 17th November, TIO Stadium, Darwin
2nd Quarter Final Runner Up Group B v Winner Group D, Saturday 18th November, Christchurch Stadium
3rd Quarter Final Winner Group B v 3rd Group A, Saturday 18th November, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
4th Quarter Final Runner Up Group A v Winner Group C, Sunday 19th November, AAMI Park, Melbourne
1st Semi Final Winner 1st QF v Winner 2nd QF, Friday 24th November, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
2nd Semi Final Winner 3rd QF v Winner 4th QF, Saturday 25th November, Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Winner 1st Semi Final v Winner 2nd Semi Final, Saturday 2nd December, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Group A (First three teams advance)
Group B (First three teams advance)
Group C (Team 1 advances)
Papua New Guinea
Group D (Team 1 advances)
The Squads can be found in the link below