DISCLAIMER: ODDS AND ARTICLE UPDATED 28/03/2020, 19:06.
Next year's Rugby League World Cup will be staged in England, where 16 teams will congregate for the sport's international showpiece tournament and familiar winners are likely to be crowned champions.
Two extra countries have been added to the line-up after only 14 competed in the previous two World Cups in 2013 and 2017, but despite the increased participants there appears to be only three realistic winners.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 Outright Betting Odds
In fact, the odds suggest you could narrow it down further than that and there is a solid argument to suggest only two countries - reigning champions Australia and their southern hemisphere rivals New Zealand - are capable of coming out on top overall.
The Kangaroos remain the dominant nation on the international rugby league stage and won their 11th World Cup in their 14th consecutive final three years ago on home soil. So it's no surprise they are currently the 2/5 favourites to be crowned world champions once again next November.
Australia, led by Sydney Roosters star Boyd Cordner, will expect to progress without a problem from Group B, where they have been drawn alongside Fiji, Scotland and Italy, before peaking nicely for the final stages.
If anyone can stop them, it's likely to be New Zealand, who are next best in the outright odds at 6/1. The Kiwis, who will dominate a group containing Ireland, Lebanon and Jamaica, are actually strangely ranked No.1 in the world right now, ahead of the Aussies, even though the last time the two met in October it ended in a familiar Australia victory (26-4).
Michael Maguire's side had too much for the Great Britain Lions too on their southern hemisphere tour last year, winning both games, and they will expect to be in the final next year, not least to make up for the massive disappointment of losing to Fiji in the last eight in 2017.
England are third in the outright betting odds, at a best price 11/1, and will hope home advantage gives them a chance of somehow stopping the Australian juggernaut. The Three Lions did go all the way to the final in 2017 and put in a creditable display to only lose 6-0 in Brisbane as the Kangaroos just did enough.
There will be plenty of local optimism and the fact the tournament is being played in the northern hemisphere and hosted by England of course improves their chances but, realistically, it will take a mammoth ask for Shaun Wane to overcome the obvious hurdles in the way and lead his side to World Cup glory.
Of the others, Tonga (16/1 Outright) will always be confident of getting to the latter stages at least but surely can't cause a monumental upset to win their first World Cup.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 Outright Prediction
England will attempt to take advantage of home backing to go far in the tournament but Australia and New Zealand are still the two to beat. On their day, the Kiwis can hurt the Kangaroos but most will expect Australia to be celebrating a third successive triumph and 12th World Cup success overall next autumn.
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