The Rugby League World Cup may be well over a year away, but the build-up to the tournament has already started and Dave Kuzio has cast an early eye over the contenders.
Australia are the reigning champions having narrowly beaten England 6-0 in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final in Brisbane. Boyd Cordner scored the only try of the game in the first-half, while this Final will probably be most remembered by the last-ditch ankle tap by Josh Dugan to prevent Kallum Watkins from racing away and levelling up the match.
The outright markets have not been released yet, but that has not stopped Dave Kuzio from going over who he believes will be the teams to look out when the 2021 Rugby League World Cup takes place in England.
Banker Bet: England to win the World Cup
Wayne Bennett’s England were an ankle tap from being crowned world champions in 2017. OK, the try might have only levelled the game up at 6-6, but England were in the ascendency and momentum was with them. Had they levelled the game at the stage, they would have had enough to go on and win the game.
That heartbreak will spur a lot of that squad on, they will be determined to go one better and lift the trophy on home soil in 2021. Some of the team that featured in that Brisbane Final might not be included in the next tournament, but the likes of John Bateman, Jake Connor, George Williams, Jake Truman and Luke Thompson will all be ready to give it another crack.
There has been plenty of talk that the England coach should be English rather than the Australian they have now. Only time will tell if there will be a new coach in charge ahead of the tournament, one thing is for sure. England are getting very close to winning their first World Cup. Could it be in 2021?
Obvious Winner Bet: Australia to win the World Cup
Australia have won the World Cup 11 times out of 15 tournaments, it’s a no brainer that they will be the favourites to win the 2021 tournament.
Things will be a little bit different this time out, there will be no Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith or Billy Slater that’s for sure. If you take three players of their stature out of any team, they will struggle. The main problem everyone has, is that Australia continue to produce top-class talent.
Although there may never be another Smith, Cronk or Slater – they will make sure they have the best players on the park. That’s why you can never write off the Kangaroos.
Bold Prediction: Tonga to win the World Cup
Even as I write this, backing Tonga to win the World Cup doesn’t seem as much as a gamble as it actually should do.
Over the years, it was always between England and New Zealand to see who would face Australia in the Final. Things might be a little be different next time out. Wins at the end of last year for Tonga against Great Britain and Australia have catapulted them into the spotlight.
With players like Ben Murdoch-Masila, Konrad Hurrell, Andrew Fifita, Jason Taumalolo, Tuimoala Lolohea, Michael Jennings and Sio Siua Taukeiaho in their ranks, don’t be surprised to see them lift the World Cup trophy in 2021.