The Ladbrokes Rugby League Four Nations is back, and there are a whole host of fascinating sub-plots which point to this year’s edition being the most exciting and dramatic tournament ever.
Will New Zealand get revenge on Australia for their World Cup final pasting? Is England’s prodigal son ready to make a crucial impact? These are just a couple of the big talking points getting an airing at Ladbrokes News HQ this week. Here’s what we can’t wait for…
Can underdog debutants cause an upset?
Scotland upset the odds to win the 2014 European Cup and book a place at the Ladbrokes Four Nations, with commanding victories over Wales (42-18) and Ireland (25-4).
They head into this tournament in good form, having thumped a Cumbria Select side 48-16 in a warm-up game, and boasting several young Super League talents, including Widnes prop Sam Brooks, and 2016 Grand Final-winner Lewis Tierney, who can cause problems on the wing.
While the 500/1 for them to finish top reflects their uphill battle, the +44 Scotland handicap for their game against Australia looks like ridiculously good value at 10/11. This Scottish side are certainly no pushovers.
Huddersfield is Sam’s Town
There will be plenty of stars on show as England face New Zealand at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday, with 6/5 for the hosts to get off to a winning start against the tournament holders. But one man will be getting a little more attention than the rest…
Following Sam Burgess’ code-switch back to Rugby League in late 2015, the former Bradford Bulls man has the perfect platform on which to show he can be England’s main man once again.
The West Yorkshire native starred for the national side during the 2013 World Cup, and we’re tipping the captain to rediscover his best form for the Ladbrokes Four Nations.
The Oceanic rivalry
The current Four Nations holders may be ranked world number one, but their see-saw rivalry with Australia means they face a tough test again in England this month.
The Kiwis were hammered 34-2 by the Kangaroos in the 2013 World Cup final, though New Zealand turned the tide with a 22-18 victory to lift this trophy in Wellington two years ago.
Mal Meninga’s side won a friendly meeting on home soil 26-6 earlier this month, to give the Aussies bragging rights ahead of this autumn’s showpiece.
One thing’s for certain – these two should produce at least one cracking clash, while another meeting in the final is very plausible, with Australia 8/15 favourites to win the trophy, and New Zealand next best at 3/1.
English excitement on home soil
From London to Liverpool, Hull to Huddersfield and Coventry to Workington (shame the alliteration didn’t last), fans are gearing up to see the world’s finest do battle in their hometown.
With the chance to see the Burgess brothers, Kiwis legends like prop Jesse Bromwich and Australia’s star-studded second row, it’s no surprise that the Ladbrokes Four Nations is capturing the imagination of fans across the country – especially with England having a realistic chance of glory at 4/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing