It’s been four years of hurt since England suffered a last-minute defeat to New Zealand in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup semi-final.
The Kiwis would go on to lose the final to Australia at Old Trafford as the Aussies secured a record tenth World Cup triumph.
Four years may have passed since that tournament, but the same scenario is expected of all three main contenders once again this time around.
England will need to be on their game from minute one if they’re to have any chance of defying their tag as 7/1 second-favourites.
Wayne Bennett’s men warmed up with a routine 74-12 win over a Combined Affiliated States side last week and will be relying on Sam Burgess once more if they’re to make any serious progression down under.
Big things are also expected of Super League man of steel Luke Gale and NRL stand-off of the year Gareth Widdop.
The exciting Gale is set to make his World Cup bow against Australia in the opener while Widdop is an experienced campaigner after starting his England career in 2010. Gale is 150/1 to be the top tournament tryscorer.
And what about Ryan Hall? Ladbrokes’ own Nicola McGeady caught up with England Team Manager Jamie Peacock to discuss Hall’s chances at 16/1.
— Ladbrokes (@Ladbrokes) October 26, 2017
It’ll take an almighty effort for England to win the whole tournament, although group qualification and a possible run to the final (11/10) appear well within their grasp.
Aside from 2/9 shots Australia, England’s main competition will come from tournament co-hosts New Zealand.
The Kiwis were humbled in the final four years ago but are 8/1 to regain the trophy they last won in 2008.
Their record in the Southern Hemisphere is impressive too. After winning the ’08 World Cup in Australia, they also hoovered up the 2010 and 2014 editions of the Four Nations tournament.
Wingers Jordan Rapana and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will be key if the joint-hosts are to go deep in their own back yard. The latter is a danger going forward and is priced at just 14/1 to be the top tryscorer.
British interest comes in the form of Thomas Leuluai (Wigan Warriors) and Peta Hiku (recently of Warrington Wolves). Five uncapped players will also make their bows as the Kiwis mix youth with experience.
The Scots reached the quarter-finals in 2013 and should make it out of Group B at the very least.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.