The 2013 Rugby League World Cup kicks off with a blockbuster as Australia takes on traditional rivals England at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Join us for live scores and commentary from 12.30am AEDT.
Australia once again approaches another Rugby League World Cup as the raging-hot favourite, given the amount of class they possess at their disposal.
England however represents one of two major threats to Australia’s chances of securing another world cup trophy, the other of course being reigning champions New Zealand.
England’s preparation for tonight’s contest however has been far from ideal, with a loss to Italy and player misconduct threatening to derail their world cup campaign before it even begins.
Key players James Graham, Gareth Hock and Michael Mcllorum have all been controversially omitted from the squad to face the Kangaroos.
Graham’s omission in particular is startling to say the least. He has become a key cornerstone of the Bulldogs pack in the NRL and is rightfully rated as one of the best props in the world.
Given Australia’s strength in the forwards, England really need to start their best forwards if they hope to keep the Kangaroos from establishing territorial dominance.
Thankfully, England do possess South Sydney quartet the Burgess brothers, with Sam, Tom, George in particular all in line to play against Australia.
If the Burgess brothers and Kevin Sinfield in particular can play strongly tonight, then England do possess the muscle upfront to challenge Australia.
New Dragons recruit Gareth Widdop will also need to fire in attack if England hope to post enough points to secure victory tonight.
The key to England’s chances of victory tonight will revolve around their ability to maintain discipline.
England can ill-afford to give away cheap penalties against a Kangaroos outfit that possesses an infinite amount of firepower across the park.
Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Johnathon Thurston, Greg Inglis, Darius Boyd and Brent Tate will put England to the sword if they are gifted opportunities to attack close to the line.
A fast start from the Kangaroos must also be avoided if England hope to cause the upset.
If Australia races out to a 10 point lead or so, then the Kangaroos will most likely go on and register a convincing victory.
An opening try to England however could very well see this match turn into a real arm wrestle.
While a competitive contest should be expected, the class of Australia’s backline should see the Kangaroos start their world cup campaign with a win.
Australia by 12.