Rugby League World Cup: Pool matches to watch

David Holden Roar Pro

By , David Holden is a Roar Pro

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    For those of you suffering withdrawals symptoms after a season of rugby league, you haven’t got long to wait.

    The World Cup is less than two weeks away and the five-week competition will keep league fans entertained until early December.

    As always, Australia will go in as favourites and there will be some blow outs along the way. However, there will be some games that are compulsory viewing and I’ve listed five pool games below that will be well worth a look, prior to the finals beginning.

    Australia versus England – Friday 27th October

    This is a good start to the tournament. The Kangaroos should win however an England team including two of the Burgess brothers, James Graham, Gareth Widdop, Josh Hodgson and a number of the UK Super League’s best won’t prove to be a pushover. Holding it in Melbourne should ensure a big crowd.

    England's Sam Burgess (L) scores a try during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at Wembley Stadium in London on November 23, 2013. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK

    (AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK)

    Papua New Guinea versus Wales – Saturday 28th October
    In reality, any of Papua New Guinea’s games during the pool rounds would do fine. That’s because all of them will be played in Port Moresby. Papua New Guinea has a sprinkling of NRL players but the largest contributor to the team is the Papua New Guinea Hunters, this year’s Queensland Cup winners.

    They play Wales, Ireland and the USA through the pool rounds, and with a fanatical Papua New Guinea crowd behind them, you would expect a spot in the quarter finals.

    France versus Lebanon – Sunday 29th October
    Call me crazy but this one is worth a view. The bulk of France’s team comes from the Catalan Dragons and other Super League teams and they will likely go in as favourite. However, I’m tipping an upset from a Lebanon team featuring Mitchell Moses, Robbie Farah, Michael Lichaa and Tim Mannah.

    There is a question mark as to how Farah and Lichaa will be used on the field, but I think you will see Farah spending plenty of time in the halves with Moses.

    Samoa versus Tonga – Saturday 4th November
    Rather than largely providing criticism, the rugby league community should be thanking Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo for electing to play for Tonga. They’ve created more attention on the World Cup than would otherwise be the case.

    Tonga have assembled a strong squad and will likely go deep into the tournament, but don’t totally discount a boilover here. The Samoan squad has largely gone under the radar but is stacked full of NRL players and will be keen to cause an upset.

    New Zealand versus Tonga – Saturday 11th November
    Ever since Taumalolo elected to pull on a red jersey rather than the black one, this game has been on the radar. Much will depend on the fitness of Shaun Johnson and the effectiveness of the Tongan halves, which is arguably Tonga’s weak link. You can guarantee there will be a large build up to this clash, so the opening skirmishes will be a must watch.

    So there you go, five weeks of league coming up and there are at least five matches worth a watch before the finals get underway. Happy viewing.

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