New Zealand reach number one

New Zealand are now officially the number one ranked team in international rugby league.

The latest RLIF world rankings show that the Kiwis have swapped places with the Australians, who now lie in second.

That is the only change in the top-12 of the rankings, with England still in third place, and Scotland in eighth, one place behind Ireland, and one ahead of Wales.

France lie fifth, with Samoa fourth and Fiji sixth. Tonga are down in 15th, one place behind Serbia.

Lebanon have climbed three places to 20th after their recent win over Malta, while Belgium have quietly risen to 18th.

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney was delighted yet humbled by his team’s achievements.

“It’s always humbling when your accomplishments are recognised in a tangible way and this ranking is a sign that we are doing something right in terms of our overall goal, which is simply to continually strive towards achieving our potential,” he said.

“We’re somewhat fortunate that we’ve been able to field close to our strongest side over our last two campaigns – the Four Nations and this month’s Anzac Test.

“Compare that with last year’s Anzac game, when we had about 16 players unavailable.

“But it’s also the result of some hard work put in by New Zealand Rugby League over the past 12 months, and a testament to the players and staff that have really bought into that culture of constant improvement.

“Despite this accolade, we still consider Australia as the benchmark for international rugby league and we know that defending this number one ranking against England on their home soil later this year will also present a wonderful challenge for us.”

Recently-installed chief executive of the Rugby League International Federation, David Collier OBE, felt that the Test series against England later this year had now acquired greater status.

New Zealand’s success in the recent test has elevated them to the number one position by the narrowest of margins, which makes the series against third-placed England later this year of even greater significance,” he said.

The RLIF world rankings are based on results in full international matches, and take into account the standing, result and competition played in. More recent results carry a greater weighting than previous ones.

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