Prepare to rumble as Rugby World Cup 2021 finally begins on Saturday.
The English hosts kick off the tournament against Samoa at Newcastle United’s home of St James Park.
What a crack game this should be too! The two teams are neck and neck in betting for tournament glory with England RL teams main partner Betfred.
There is no doubt that this will be the most competitive men’s World Cup ever, with a number of teams who could really win it.
Two of them being England and Samoa.
There’s no denying we’re missing a number of key players who would certainly be in the starting line-up – but there’s still plenty of talent in the England squad to get the job done.
Two of those players, new to the international scene but not NRL players, are Newcastle Knights Dom Young and Brisbane Bronco Herbie Farnworth.
Both players made their England debuts in the 50-0 destruction of Fiji in last Friday’s RLWC warm-up, and showed why they should both start in Shaun Wanes’ line-up at 2.30pm on Saturday .
It was a solid performance against a poor Fijian team, and it will give a big confidence boost for the first game.
However, Samoa will be a totally different proposition. With pretty much the backline of back-to-back NRL champions Penrith and some of the best players in the top-flight competition, Samoa are strongly poised to challenge for the trophy. They are currently 9/1 to do so with Betfred.
But… I am a patriotic Englishman and would always support our boys, and hopefully with a hostile St James Park full of England supporters behind the team, we can kick off the competition with a huge win.
England are 16/1 to do better than beaten finalists at the last World Cup in 2017.
Betfred also offer as well as an England win over Samoa (5/4), (2/1) Australia, unsurprisingly are favorites to win the competition at 1/2, with Saints superstar Jack Welsby to cross the whitewash at any time in the New Zealand team strong game at 10/3.
Tonga, who beat Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain in 2019, are also popular with Betfred at 11/1.
Wales, Scotland, Greece and Jamaica are all rank outsiders to do the unthinkable.
This World Cup, which is taking place 12 months later than planned due to Covid, is expected to be the biggest, best and most inclusive ever… with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments all taking place simultaneously , with each match broadcast by the BBC via live TV or online platforms.
It is certainly a great opportunity to promote Rugby League to a new audience and showcase the greatest game in the world. RL has proven once again that this is a game for everyone, whether watching or playing.
It’s been over 50 years since the 1972 Great Britain side were the last northern hemisphere team to win an RL World Cup, and something that has certainly been mentioned by England boss Shaun Wane.
Players like Welsby, Farnworth, Sam Tomkins and Elliott Whitehead will be looking to write their own names in the history books.
Some of the stars from other nations to watch are- Tonga- David Fafita Samoa- Jerome Luai NZ- James Fisher-Harris Fiji- Viliame Kikau Australia- Nathan Cleary France- Benjamin Garcia PNG- Xavier Coates