CUP DREAMS: Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith and coach Mal Meninga.
CUP DREAMS: Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith and coach Mal Meninga. DAVID MOIR

Kangaroos and England to open World Cup

IT’S a promoter’s dream – the 2017 Rugby League World Cup kicking off with Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos playing Wayne Bennett’s England in Melbourne on October 27 next year.

World Cup organisers have revealed the draw in Brisbane, with matches to be played in Melbourne, Perth, Townsville, Cairns, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Darwin, as well as in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, and Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton in New Zealand.

Brisbane will not host a pool game, but the first semi-final will be played at Suncorp Stadium on November 24, as will the final on December 2.

Sydney fans, who failed to show up in numbers to last week’s third Origin game, would appear to be the big losers, restricted to a round-two pool game between England and Lebanon and a round-three clash between Australia and Lebanon.

The 14 teams at the World Cup will play a total of 28 games at 13 different venues in three countries over five weeks.

PNG, where rugby league is a national sport verging on a religion, will host two pool games against European qualifying teams in Port Moresby and also a clash with 2013 quarter-finalist the USA.

Eleven teams are already in the cup field, with three more to win through during the European qualification period later in the year, involving teams from Russia, Serbia, Wales, Ireland, Italy and Spain.

Australia, which has won 10 of the 14 World Cups since 1954, has drawn England, France and Lebanon in Pool A.

In Pool B, defending champion New Zealand is matched with traditional rivals Tonga and Samoa as well as Scotland.

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