Ireland and Italy are both not the favourites to get out of Group C and Group D respectively, but they could cause a couple of upsets this tournament.
PREVIOUS WORLD CUPS
Ireland had a decent World Cup campaign back in 2008 and made it to the quarter-finals after losing 30-14 to Fiji in the semi-final qualifier but the tournament in 2013 didn’t go the way they had hoped, with the Wolfhounds losing all three of their group games.
Italy made their first ever appearance at a Rugby League World Cup in 2013 and raised a couple of eyebrows along the way. They picked up a draw with the now number four ranked side in the world in Scotland but lost against Tonga and failed to get out of their group.
WORLD CUP EXPERIENCE
Mark Aston’s Ireland side have seven players who have played at a World Cup in the past and these are Scott Grix, Liam Finn, James Hasson, Anthony Mullally, Micky McIlorum, Api Pewhairangi and Tyrone McCarthy. There are 18 World Cup debutants for the Wolfhounds this year.
The Azzurri have got a lot of previous World Cup experience in their squad this time around which could board well for them with the likes of Christophe Calegari, Terry Campese, Gioele Celerino, Chris Centrone, Ryan Ghietti, Gavin Hiscox, Josh Mantellato, Mark Minichiello, Joel Riethmuller, Brendan Santi, James Tedesco and Paul Vaughan involved.
ONES TO WATCH
There are a couple of players in the Ireland squad who are highly-rated in the Betfred Super League. Liam Finn is the skipper and has been quality for Wakefield Trinity this season, even though he goes very much under the radar a lot of the time and is a brilliant kicker while Wigan Warriors star Micky McIlorum is up there with the best hookers in the competition.
Several NRL players are in Cameron Ciraldo’s Italy side this year which bolsters the side. The obvious stand-out for Italy though is New South Wales ace James Tedesco. He played for Italy in the 2013 tournament and has become one of the most wanted players in the world ever since then. Hull FC forward Mark Minichiello is also a very tough player.
Wakefield trio Scott Grix, Liam Finn and James Hasson will feature on Sunday while Brad Singleton and Kyle Amor will start at prop for the Wolfhounds. Warrington Wolves duo George King and Joe Philbin will also play a part for Ireland.
IRELAND: 1. Scott Grix, 2. Shannon McDonnell, 3. Ed Chamberlain, 4. Michael Morgan, 5. Liam Taylor, 6. Api Pewhairangi, 7. Liam Finn, 8. Brad Singleton, 9. Micky McIlorum, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 12. Oliver Roberts, 13. George King. Subs: 14. Tyrone McCarthy, 15. James Hasson, 16. Joe Philbin, 17. Anthony Mullally. Reserves: 18. Joe Keyes, 19. Will Hope, 20. Jack Higginson, 21. Matty Hadden.
James Tedesco has been handed the No. 1 jersey for the Azzurri while former Hull KR duo Josh Mantellato and Terry Campese will start. NRL forwards Paul Vaughan and Nathan Brown will feature along with Huddersfield Giants ace Shannon Wakeman.
ITALY: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Mason Cerruto, 3. Justin Castellaro, 4. Nathan Milone, 5. Josh Mantellato, 6. Terry Campese, 7. Jack Johns, 8. Paul Vaughan, 9. Ryan Ghietti, 10. Daniel Alvaro, 11. Joel Riethmuller, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Nathan Brown. Subs: 14. Colin Wilkie, 15. Brendan Santi, 16. Shannon Wakeman, 17. Jayden Walker. Reserves: 18. Christophe Calegri, 19. Chris Centrone, 20. Joey Tramontana, 21. Gavin Hiscox.
As aforementioned, neither side are expected to progress through Group C and Group D but they certainly have strong enough squads to prove doubters wrong, but for this game, Ireland are favourites to come out on top.
You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 4am on Sunday 29 October.
How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.