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New format, same story for rugby league World Cup

New format, same old story: Australia, New Zealand set to dominate 14th 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...
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...

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...

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...

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.


Updated : 2020-12-01 10:14 GMT+08:00