Britain Rugby League World Cup
Captains for the 14 competing teams including (back row from left) USA Joseph Paulo, Tonga's Breat Kite, Scotland's Danny Brough, Samoa's Harrison Han...
Captains for the 14 competing teams including (back row from left) USA Joseph Paulo, Tonga's Breat Kite, Scotland's Danny Brough, Samoa's Harrison Hanson, PNG Neville Costigan, Italy's Anthony Minichello, Ireland's Liam Finn, (front row left to right) France's Olivier Elima, Fiji's Petro Civoniceva, Cook Islands' Zeb Tgig, Australia's Cameron Smith, Wales' Craig Kopzcah, England's Kevin Sinfield, New Zealand's Simon Mannery, during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup launch at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/PA, Martin Rickett) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Rugby League WC New Zealand Williams
FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 17, 2012 file photo, then New Zealand All Blacks' Sonny Bill Williams flips a ball during their captain's run ahead of the...
FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 17, 2012 file photo, then New Zealand All Blacks' Sonny Bill Williams flips a ball during their captain's run ahead of their Bledisloe Cup rugby union match against Australia in Sydney. Billed by organizers as 2013's biggest global sporting event, the 14th rugby league World Cup was in real danger of passing by largely unnoticed just three weeks out from its first game. Now there is a buzz around the tournament _ and it's all because of one man. Sonny Bill Williams, New Zealand's headline-grabbing cross-code rugby star, originally ruled himself out of selection for the reigning champions, saying he wanted to take a break from sport to spend time with family. He has since back-tracked, and he's now the face of the World Cup. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Rugby league steps out from the shadow of its bigger, more popular rugby union brother for the next five weeks when 14 countries compete in a World Cup that has new teams, a new format but in all likelihood the same old script.
Five years after New Zealand upset Australia in its own backyard to win the sport's biggest prize for the first time, the two southern hemisphere heavyweights have arrived in Europe ready to dominate the tournament once again.
Only England, the host nation boasting its strongest squad for some time, threatens to prevent Australia and New Zealand colliding in the Nov. 30 final at Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United.
Nine-time champion Australia starts out as the favorite, but the late inclusion of Sonny Bill Williams in New Zealand's squad has boosted the holder's chances.
England plays Australia in the tournament's opening match on Saturday.