When the International Rugby League (IRL) released the latest rankings, many were surprised to see defending world champions Australia down in fourth.
They are regarded by many as the best team, and rightfully so. They have won eight of the last nine World Cups, with only New Zealand breaking that trend in 2008.
So why have they been ranked so low in the World Rankings?
How rankings work
The rankings are based on results over the last four years. In this case, that has been since the 2017 World Cup, that was held in Australia.
They became world champions for the 11th time, beating England 6-0 in Brisbane. However, they have only played four games since then.
To be fair to them, part of that is because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen Australia implement some of the toughest restrictions in the world.
However, of those four games, they have lost two as well. They lost 26-24 against New Zealand in 2018, and then 16-12 against Tonga in 2019.
To put that into context, New Zealand, who are now number one, have played nine games since the 2017 World Cup.
They travelled over to England and played a three-match series for the Baskerville Shield, although they lost out 2-1. The Kiwis also played England in a one-off match in Denver, USA. They also beat Australia in what was only their second victory of the year.
However, they would have a more fruitful 2019, winning three of their four matches. They beat Great Britain twice, to win back the Baskerville Shield, and also beat Tonga, but lost against Australia.
England, who are now second, played seven matches after the World Cup. This excludes the four matches they toured as Great Britain in the Southern Hemisphere.
They have also been one of the only nations to get a test match in since the start of the pandemic. As well as an exhibition against a Combined All Stars side, they also travelled over to France at the end of the 2021 season.
Finally, Tonga, who have got up to their highest ever ranking of third, also managed to play five matches since the conclusion of the World Cup.
Of those five matches, Kristian Woolf’s men have won three. They beat Samoa in 2018, as well as Great Britain and Australia in 2019.
How can Australia improve this?
Next to their counterparts, they haven’t played anywhere near enough games. However, with the 2022 World Cup around the corner, they have the chance to remind the world what they are about.
There shouldn’t be any doubt about the quality Australia possess, now it is up to them to show it off.