Footy returns to our screens this weekend as the Rugby League World Cup 9s tournament kicks off from Bankwest Stadium on Friday night.
Twelve of the world’s top rugby league nations prepare to butt heads across two action-packed days, and with a handful of the game’s brightest young stars set to shine, it’s worth taking a look at the market to try and determine a winner.
There’s tremendous value on offer with several contenders set to seriously challenge the favourites, so be sure to read our entire 2019 Rugby League World Cup 9s Preview below.
- Tournament Winner: $1.75
- To Make Grand Final: $1.45
A not-so star-studded
squad will lineup for Australia this weekend as the Kangaroos 16 is missing some
of its usual punch.
The headliners this year include Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans, Tyson Frizell and Wade Graham, while Josh Addo-Carr and Kalyn Ponga will be in charge of bringing some pace on attack. There is a particularly young feel to the green and gold this year, but that still hasn’t been enough to sway bookmakers elsewhere in the market.
Group A is made up of the top two contenders (Australia and New Zealand), so the Aussies will need to be at their best. That said, you can expect plenty of high-scoring games with lesser opponents like PNG and the USA in the same bracket.
The Overs should be a strong bet in the early stages and don’t be surprised if Addo-Carr digs deep into his bag of tricks. The speedster finished sixth in total tries scored during the home/away NRL season, so make sure you include him in your multi’s.
certainly a very raw feel to the PNG 16 that could surprise many opposing teams
that take the Kumuls lightly.
The name to
watch in the squad is former Canterbury Bulldog Rhyse Martin, who returns
following a year with the Leeds Rhinos in the UK. Like Australia, there are
also several young names to watch including North Queensland’s Daniel Russell
and Storm centre Justin Olam.
For those that have paid attention to the Queensland Cup, you might also recognize the name Edene Gebbie. South Sydney’s future star fullback will be looking to make a name for himself in the yellow and red, so don’t be surprised if PNG takes a few teams to the brink.
- Tournament Winner: $4.00
- To Make Grand Final: $1.80
are eligible to advance to the finals from Group A – good news for the Kiwis as
they arguably boast the second-most talented side in the tournament.
Experienced heads like Shaun Johnson and Ken Maumalo make up the backbone of the 16, while Kodi Nikorima, Dylan Brown and Charnze-Nicoll Klokstad bring plenty of playmaking ability.
Top class finishers like Jamayne Isaako and Reimis Smith make the Kiwis Australia’s biggest threat at an outright win, and really, it wouldn’t be any fun without them in the Grand Final.
- Tournament Winner: $101
- To Make Grand Final: $51.00
States hasn’t drawn favourably in Group A, but the Tomahawks will relish the
underdog tag as they look to build some experience against the tournament’s top
Tomahawks in any head-to-head market will be tough, which makes the individual
performances more worth watching. Former Parramatta Eel Bureta Faraimo is one
of the headliners after scoring 32 tries at Hull FC in 2018. Ronaldo Mulitalo,
who scored five tries in eight games with the Sharks this year is also a name
- Tournament Winner: $7.00
- To Make Grand Final: $2.20
The Wall of
White are the obvious favourites to emerge from Pool B as head coach Wayne
Bennett will be hoping his young squad can compete with Australia and New Zealand.
Dragons captain James Graham and veteran play-caller Gareth Widdop make up the heart of the English 16, while names like Blake Austin and future Canberra Raider George Williams bring plenty of athleticism on the attack.
Nothing comes easy in a World Cup, but England hands down have the most favourable draw. If you’re looking for some Anytime Try Scorers, don’t sleep on Ash Handley, either. In 29 games with Leeds this season, the big winger scored 22 times.
squad is made up almost entirely of local and Super League talent, making it
difficult to get a gauge on how France will perform.
Really, Pool B is England’s to lose, but there is enough experience in the French team to challenge the Poms. Eight players took part in last year’s European Championship Tests against Wales, so don’t be surprised if France earns an upset.
- Tournament Winner: $101
- To Make Grand Final: $51.00
would like to have Robbie Farrah and Tim Mannah available this weekend, but with
the pair opting for retirement, the serious underdogs will need to rely heavily
on Reece and Travis Robinson instead.
Mitch Moses won’t line up either for Lebanon, leaving the 16 looking relatively thin on talent. The Cedars are missing most of their NRL playmakers, so this could be a long weekend for the visitors.
There is no
shortage of international talent in the Wales squad as winger Regan Grace looks
to continue his rise to the top.
The 22-year-old played a big part in St Helens’ Super League grand final win last week, while 22 tries in 33 games isn’t too shabby, either.
Wales will need all the help they can get in a tricky Pool B. Wins over France and Lebanon will be crucial while the visitors also need an English loss to boost their chances.
Islands will need a colossal upset to either Fiji, Samoa or Tonga to progress,
but they’ll certainly feel good about their chances with a bit of NRL talent in
name to watch is Eels utility man Brad Takairangi. His versatility will come in
handy all over the field, while Dragons winger Steven Marsters could also make
a big impact on the scoreboard.
Most of the Kukis 16 is made up of part-timers though, making this nothing more than a learning experience for a very young side.
The NRL’s leading try-scorer Maika Sivo, alongside Suliasi Vunivalu and Waqa Blake spearhead the heart of the Fiji’s 16, and each will be relied upon heavily on Saturday against Tonga.
This is by far one of the toughest pools in the tournament, but that isn’t to say Fiji can’t advance. Speed is on the Bati’s side, and even though the depth is relatively thin, Fiji’s heart and ‘chip on the shoulder’ mentality could easily carry them far.
There are also plenty of prospects to watch this weekend in the Fijian side, so don’t forget to keep an eye on Isaac Lumelume. The outside back made a switch to the Storm midway through the season and will be eager to impress the club.
wingers are a force to be reckoned with as Brian To’o, Jorge Taufua and David
Nofoaluma all look to leave their mark.
Experienced middleman Michael Chee-Kam is among the most reliable play-callers on the team, while the Panthers’ Jarome Luai will also be looking to make a name for himself.
Tonga is by
far the biggest dark horse in this year’s World Cup.
pool could see the Mate Ma’a come undone, but on talent alone, this is one of
the top sides capable of spoiling Australia or New Zealand’s Grand Final hopes.
The star power starts with Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita, followed by a dangerous forward pack led by Joe Ofahengaue and Tevita Pangai Jr. On the wing, Robert Jennings and Sione Katoa should challenge even the best defensive teams, meaning we can expect plenty of points early and often.
World Cup 9s Best Bets
Australia to Win @ $1.80
Tonga to Make Grand Final @ $5.50