Reigning champions Australia “not favourites” for this year’s World Cup

Jack Wighton Australia Kangaroos World Cup PA
Jack Wighton of Australia

Australia assistant coach Adrian Lam says they aren’t favourites for this year’s World Cup, but are determined to be back at the top of the world rankings come the end of it.

The Kangaroos are heavy favourites with the bookmakers to retain their World Cup crown this autumn – but the world rankings suggest otherwise.

Australia are currently the fourth ranked nation in the world, sitting behind New Zealand (1st), Tonga (2nd) and England (3rd) in the official International Rugby League world rankings.

“I think our international programme of rugby league at this World Cup is certainly a highlight for everyone to look forward to,” Lam told Love Rugby League.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on Australia this year. They are ranked fourth I believe in the current world rankings. It is something that doesn’t sit right with Mal Meninga (head coach) and the team and the players no doubt.

“We’ll talk about that in a couple of months time when it comes around. We’ll make sure we’ll give it a good crack.

“We’re not favourites for this World Cup at the moment. I’m sure the new players that have transitioned in the last few years will play well.”

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This autumn’s tournament will be Lam’s sixth World Cup he has been involved in. He played for his native Papua New Guinea in the 1995 and 2000 World Cups. He then coached his country in the 2008 and 2013 tournaments.

The 52-year-old was part of Australia’s backroom staff at the last World Cup in 2017, in which they won. He will remain as Meninga’s assistant at the tournament in England this year.

“I’ve been contracted to the Kangaroos since the last World Cup-winning side, Lam said. “And I’ve loved every moment of that.

“Working with Mal Meninga has been great for me personally as a coach as well.

“I’ve been involved with every World Cup since 1995. I had my time with the Papua New Guinean side and that time might come again some day in the future; and no doubt it will but I’m really enjoying where I’m at now. We’ve a really big challenge coming up for us in the World Cup.

“We’re ranked a little bit further down the table than we should be but I’m looking forward to that time of year.”

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About Drew Darbyshire 8316 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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