- Australia have won the Women’s Rugby League World Cup just once, and that was in 2013, when they beat New Zealand 22-12. That success avenged a 34-0 drubbing at the hands of New Zealand in the previous competition in 2008, and gave the Jillaroos one win from two appearances in the final. The team has been working with coach Brad Donald since November 2016, and the squad for the World Cup includes 16 players who will participate in the competition for the first time. Ruan Sims, who was part of the squad which won the competition in 2013, will captain the team, with their first game coming against the Cook Islands on Thursday 16 November.
- New Zealand have been the dominant team in the Women’s World Cup overall, winning the competition no fewer than three times, in 2000, 2005 and 2008. Their loss to Australia in the most recent World Cup final in 2013 will have hurt their pride more than anything else, and the Kiwi Ferns will be as keen to bounce back from that defeat as Australia were to avenge their 2008 embarrassment. Half a dozen members of the 24-player squad will be making their World Cup debut, and Laura Mariu has been selected as the captain. New Zealand’s first game will take place on Thursday 16 November, when they will face Canada.
- England, like all of the other teams involved in the competition apart from New Zealand and Australia, have yet to win a Women’s Rugby League World Cup, but they will obviously be hoping to change that this year. The 2017 World Cup squad will be led by Andrea Dobson of Featherstone Rovers, and will include ten Bradford Bulls players. The Lionesses will have an uphill struggle to break their duck, but they finished in third place in 2013, and would be sorely disappointed to fare any worse this time around. England’s first match will be against Papua New Guinea on Thursday 16 November.
As far as both past form and the bookmakers’ odds are concerned, Canada, the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea have virtually no chance of winning the 2017 World Cup, so they can be discounted for betting purposes. We would, of course, like to see England do well, but we expect Australia and New Zealand to have this competition sewn up between them. Australia are worthy favourites, given their recent form and the fact that they won the previous World Cup in 2013, but we fancy New Zealand to bounce back to winning ways at a bigger price. We will therefore tip the Kiwi Ferns to add a fourth World Cup win to their tally, and will watch with interest.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: New Zealand Women to Win – 6/4
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.