The 2017 Rugby League World Cup gets underway on Friday and there is a fair amount of hype surrounding Rugby League’s international showcase.
There is no doubt that Australia will prove very tough to beat and go into the tournament as deserving favourites, but a number of the smaller Rugby League nations have fairly strong squads and could produce some surprises.
We will analyse every single game during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and our complete 2017 Rugby League World Cup tips can be found below!
Friday 27 October, 8:00pm, AAMI Stadium
Australia 18 - England 4
The 2017 Rugby League World Cup will start with a massive clash between Australia and England at AAMI Stadium.
Australia are $1.22 favourite to win the Rugby League World Cup and it should come as no surprise that they are short-priced favourites to take out this contest.
The Kangaroos have quality right across the park and they have now reclaimed their place as the number one side in the world following a couple of surprising losses at the hands of New Zealand in 2014 and 2015.
England have made some strides under the care of Wayne Bennett and anything less than an appearance in the Rugby League World Cup Final will be considered a disappointment for this squad.
Australia will start this clash as $1.13 favourites and all the betting interest in this clash will be at the line, which is currently set at 14.5 points.
The Kangaroos have won their past three Test Matches by more than 14.5 points and they comfortably beat England by 18 points when they met at the end of last year.
Australia can start their World Cup defence with a comfortable win.
Australia To Beat The Line (-14.5 Points)
Papua New Guinea
Saturday 28 September, 4:00pm, Oil Search National Football Stadium Stadium
Papua New Guineas 50 - Wales 6
Papua New Guinea head into the 2017 Rugby League World Cup with plenty of confidence following the win of the PNG Hunters in the 2017 Queensland Cup.
The pressure is on Papua New Guinea to perform in front of their home fans and they will go into this clash with Wales as clear favourites.
Papua New Guinea have won two of their past three Test Matches since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, but they were a touch disappointing at that tournament and they failed to win a single game.
Wales qualified for the Rugby League World Cup with wins over Serbia and Italy, while they have beaten France and Scotland in recent years.
The Welsh are lacking the big names that are in the squads for some of the other smaller nations, but they have a well-balanced, consistent outfit that could present PNG with some issues.
Papua New Guinea should win this game, but Wales can cover the line with a start of 13.5 points.
Back Wales To Beat The Line (+13.5 Points)
Saturday 28 October, 6:10pm, Mt Smart Stadium
New Zealand 38 - Samoa 8
There is plenty of turmoil in this New Zealand outfit and they go into the 2017 Rugby League World Cup without a number of big names.
Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich were banned after being caught buying cocaine following the Anzac Test in May and Jason Taumalolo has elected to represent Tonga, while Tohu Harris, Jordan Kahu, Kieran Foran and Ben Matulino will miss the tournament due to injury.
New Zealand do have one of the best forward packs in the competition, but their backline does lack depth and there is plenty of pressure on Shaun Johnson.
The Kiwis were unconvincing during the Four Nations tournament last year and they drew with a fairly average Scotland side.
The majority of the Samoa side are regular first-graders in the NFL, but they are missing the upside that a player like Anthony Milford would have given them.
Samoa were beaten by England comfortably earlier in the year, but they did give New Zealand a scare when they met in 2014 and were far from disgraced during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
This should be a fairly low-scoring clash that will be dominated in the forwards and Samoa can cover the line with the start.
Back Samoa To Beat The Line (+11.5 Points)
Saturday 28 October, 8:40pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium Stadium
Fiji 58 - United States 12
Fiji are the shortest-priced favourites in the first weekend of Rugby League World Cup fixtures.
There is plenty of talent in this Fijian side and if the likes of JarrydHayne, Apisai Koroisau and Suliasi Vunivalu can fire they are capable of making another deep run.
Fiji have generally performed well against sides that they are expected to beat and they have made the semi-finals of the past two World Cup’s.
The United States recorded narrow wins over Jamaica and Canada to quality for the Rugby League World Cup and they are a team that continues to improve.
They were able to beat the Cook Islands and Wales during the 2013 World Cup and I really don’t think that they are as bad as the current market thinks,
Fiji should win this game comfortably, but the USA can cover the line with the huge start of 27.5 points.
Back USA To Beat The Line (+27.5 Points)
Sunday 29 October, 3:00pm, Barlow Park
Ireland 36 - Italy 12
Italy will go into this clash with Ireland as clear favourites to start their Rugby League World Cup campaign with a win.
Italy lost to Wales during qualifying, but the addition of James Tedesco and Paul Vaughan does make them one of the minnows to watch during this tournament.
The Italians were excellent at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and they can build on that performance in this tournament.
Ireland topped a fairly comfortable group to qualify for the World Cup and they don’t have the injection of Australian-based talent that is found in the Italy side.
They were able to beat Scotland when they met in 2015 and they have generally had the measure of Wales in recent seasons.
This is another side that has been underrated because of a lack of big names, but they are a tough side with a strong defence that can cover the line with a handy start.
Back Ireland To Beat The Line (+12.5 Points)
Sunday 29 October, 4:00pm, GIO Stadium
France 18 - Lebanon 29
The market suggests that this will be the most open game over the first weekend of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
France will start this clash as favourites and they are a tough team to get a read on as they have not played a great deal of football in recent years.
They were fairly disappointing at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and it is tough to back them with any real confidence.
Lebanon comfortably beat South Africa to secure a berth in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and they return to the tournament for the first time since 2000.
The fact that Brad Fittler is coaching the side and has the likes of Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah in the squad has ensured that Lebanon has got plenty of publicity in the lead-up to the tournament, but it is tough to find depth in this side.
There are simply too many unknowns in both these sides and this is a clash that I am happy to stay out of from a betting perspective.
Sunday 29 October, 5:15pm, Barlow Park
Scotland 4 - Tonga 50
Tonga have been the big story in the lead-up to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and they will start this clash as clear favourites.
The Tongans were already set to take a strong squad into the tournament – especially in the forwards – but their squad received a serious boost when Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita elected to represent Tonga over New Zealand and Australia respectively.
Tonga struggled for consistency during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and in recent years they have suffered a pair of defeats at the hands of Samoa.
Scotland actually beat Tonga when they met at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and they played some decent rugby league in the Four Nations 12 months ago – they drew with New Zealand and weren’t disgraced against England.
In saying that, their lead-up form to this tournament has been poor and that does make them tough to trust from a betting standpoint.
Tonga should win this game, but there is no value at their current price.
Friday 3 November, 8:00pm, GIO Stadium
The Rugby League World Cup continues this Friday Night and Australia are dominant favourites to beat France.
Australia were not overly impressive in their opening game of the tournament against England, but they still did enough to come away with the victory.
France suffered a disappointing loss at the hands of Lebanon in their tournament opener and it obviously doesn’t get any easier for them in this clash.
The line for this match has been set at a massive 56.5 points and this does seem a touch excessive.
Australia won only one of their games at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup by more than this margin and France are not the worst defensive team in this competition.
The Kangaroos will win this game comfortably, but they could struggle to cover the huge line.
Back France To Beat The Line (+56.5 Points)
Saturday 4 November, 3:00pm, Rugby League Stadium
This is another game with a huge line and an unbackable favourite.
There has been plenty of controversy surrounding this New Zealand side before the start of the tournament, but they were able to put that behind them and started their tournament with an excellent win over Samoa.
Scotland were one of the most disappointing sides in the opening round of the tournament and they were absolutely flogged by Tonga in what proved to be a fiery encounter.
The Scots are a better side than their performance against Tonga suggests and it should not be forgotten that they drew with New Zealand when they met in the Four Nations 12 months ago.
Scotland can return to a semblance of their best form and avoid another heavy defeat.
Back Scotland To Beat The Line (+45.5 Points)
This will be one of the biggest games in the pool stages of the tournament as there is no love lost between these two sides.
Samoa beat Tonga when these two teams met in Sydney last year, but it is Tonga that will go into this clash as clear favourites following their big win over Scotland.
The presence of the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita and Michael Jennings have ensured that Tonga have one of the strongest squads in the competition and they really should have too much firepower for a Samoa side that was a touch disappointing against New Zealand.
Tonga are set to be the big story of this World Cup and they can continue their strong start to the tournament with a comfortable victory over Samoa.
Back Tonga To Beat The Line (-12.5 Points)
Saturday 4 November, 8:00pm, Allianz Stadium
England started their World Cup campaign with a loss against Australia, but are clear favourites to open their account against Lebanon on Saturday night.
England may struggle to beat Australia or New Zealand, but they generally do get the job against these weaker nations and the question is whether they can cover line of 30.5 points.
Lebanon recorded their first ever World Cup victory when they beat France last weekend and they played some classy Rugby League in the process.
This is obviously a much tougher assignment and another win is beyond them, but I doubt that they will be disgraced and they can cover the line with a big start.
Back Lebanon To Beat The (+30.5 Points)
Papua New Guinea
Sunday 5 November, 3:00pm, Oil Search National Football Stadium
Papua New Guinea and Ireland both started their tournament with impressive wins and this will be one of the most interesting matches of the weekend.
The big home crowd helped spur Papua New Guinea to a dominant win over Wales and a repeat of that performance would likely ensure that they make it two wins from as many starts.
Ireland did record a big win over Wales when they last met back in 2014 and they proved with their win over Italy that they may be one of the most underrated sides in this tournament.
In saying that, a firing Papua New Guinea in front of their rapid home fans in Port Moresby are a very scary opponent and they are deserving of their position as clear favourites.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to stay out of this clash from a betting perspective.
Sunday 5 November, 5:00pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium
Italy suffered a surprise loss at the hands of Ireland in their opening World Cup fixture, but they are clear favourites to beat the United States.
There is no doubt that the presence of the likes of James Tedesco saw Italy be overrated by the market ahead of the World Cup, but the over-correction may have gone too far.
The United States were completely outplayed by Fiji last weekend and although this Italy side lacks the overall firepower of Fiji they still have a number of very dangerous players.
Italy can bounce back from their last weekend’s defeat and get their World Cup campaign back on track with a big win over the United States.
Back Italy To Beat The Line (-18.5 Points)
Sunday 5 November, 7:30pm, 1300 Smiles Stadium
Fiji started their World Cup campaign with a big win over the United States and they are clear favourites to account for Wales in this clash.
Fiji put on a real show against the United States and it is no surprise that the line has been set at a very large 44.5 points.
The United States actually beat Wales when they played at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and they were simply no match for Papua New Guinea.
Fiji have even more firepower in their side than Papua New Guinea and they can record another very win big.
Back Fiji To Cover The Line (+44.5 Points)
Friday 10 November, 7:40pm, GIO Stadium
Italy need to win this game by more than 45 points to qualify for the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals and that looks incredibly unlikely.
Fiji were nothing short of outstanding against Wales, while Italy recorded their first win of the tournament with a big victory over the United States.
This could be an opportunity for Fiji to rest some of their stars before the quarter-finals and it would not surprise if they go into this clash with a slightly weaker side than what they have fielded to date.
In saying that, they should still have few issues beating an Italy side that was soundly beaten by Ireland in their opening game of the tournament.
Back Fiji To Beat The Line (-21.5 Points)
Saturday 11 November, 3:00pm, Waikato Stadium
This will be the game of the tournament to date as there is no love lost between these two sides.
It will be interesting to see how New Zealand deal with Jason Taumalolo and he will be keen to make a statement against his former international teammates.
This will be a hard-fought, physical clash that is dominated in the forwards and it would not surprise if it was a low-scoring affair.
Tonga may not be good enough to beat New Zealand, but they will be up for the fight and they can cover the line with a start of 8.5 points.
Back Tonga To Beat The Line (+8.5 Points)
Saturday 11 November, 6:00pm, Barlow Park
The winner of this game will play Australia in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals.
Scotland have been one of the biggest disappointments of the tournament to date and they head into this clash on the back of heavy defeats at the hands of the Tonga and New Zealand.
Samoa have not been disgraced in either of their games to date and they will be keen to show that they are worth of a place in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Scotland will suffer their third straight defeat on the trot and the line of 34.5 points will not be enough.
Back Samoa To Beat The Line (-34.5 Points)
Saturday 11 November, 8:00pm, Allianz Stadium
It should come as no surprise that Australia will start this clash with Lebanon as dominant favourites.
The big question here is whether Australia will cover the line of 44.5 points and that might come down to the attitude of the Lebanon side.
They were excellent in their tournament opener against France and they were far from disgraced against England last weekend.
In saying that, Australia do represent a completely different challenge and they could very easily put plenty of points on their rivals.
The line of 44.5 points does seem just about right and this is a game that I am than happy to stay out of from a betting perspective.
Papua New Guinea
Sunday 12 November, 4:00pm, Oil Search National Football Stadium
Papua New Guinea have been excellent during the Rugby League World Cup to date and the line for this clash has been set at a massive 59.5 points.
PNG started their tournament with a big win over Wales and they were able to secure their place in the knockout stages with a narrow win over Ireland.
The United States have conceded plenty of points during their Rugby League World Cup campaign to date, but the line of 59.5 points does seem excessive.
PNG could take the foot off the pedal now that they have secured their passage through to the quarter-finals and United States can hold on to cover the line.
Back USA To Cover The Line (+59.5 Points)
Sunday 12 November, 6:30pm, NIB Stadium
Ireland have surpassed expectations during the Rugby League World Cup and they should be able to finish the tournament with two wins.
Ireland gave Papua New Guineas a serious scare and that was a side that recorded a massive victory over Wales in their opening game of the tournament.
Wales went on to be flogged by Fiji and it is clear that this is a team with plenty of defensive fralties.
Ireland will be far too good for their rivals and they can cover the line in the process.
Back Ireland To Beat The Line (-28.5 Points)
Sunday 12 November, 9:00pm, NIB Stadium
England have not been overly impressive during their World Cup campaign to date, but they will still start this clash with France as clear favourites.
France were competitive in the first half of their clash with Australia, but they ran out of legs in the second half.
There is no doubt that the commitment was there and this is an English outfit that doesn’t have the firepower of Australia.
England didn’t put up a big score against Lebanon and they really aren’t a team that have a great deal of points in them.
This is a game that the market looks to have gotten just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.