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World Cup - Rugby League: Five potential breakout stars

The Rugby League World Cup is nearly upon us, and it will not be long before the 13-man code dominates our screens for a month.

It has been five long years since the last edition of the tournament, and it will be Australia that will try to defend their crown after their previous success in 2017.

The Aussies are chasing their 12th title, but the tide could be changing, with several high-profile names deciding to switch their allegiance away from Australia.

It is no surprise to see Australia listed as the 4/9 favourites, while New Zealand remain the second favourites to win their second World Cup at 4/1.

England are as big as 9/1 to succeed on home soil, and we take a look at some of the players who could make a name for themselves in the coming weeks at the World Cup.


2021 Rugby League World Cup




15th October - 19th November 2022

How to watch

BBC 1 and BBC 2


Outright Winner - Australia 3/10, England 6/1, New Zealand 13/2, Tonga 11/1, Samoa 28/1

Jack Welsby

St Helens star Jack Welsby will barely have had any time to celebrate his team's fourth successive Grand Final success.

The utility back played a crucial role as St Helens beat Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford, and he could be set for a few weeks on the world's biggest stage.

England captain Sam Tomkins has described Welsby as St Helens' best centre, winger, full-back and halfback - which is high praise indeed considering the quality of his team-mates.

Welsby was named this year's Super League Young Player of the Year, while he also made the final three for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.

His ability to play all over the pitch will be a huge help to England, who face Samoa first up in the World Cup and are 10/11 to record a victory.

Joseph Suaalii

Despite being just 19, Suaalii was thought to be a certainty to make the Australia squad for this year's World Cup. That was until he told Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga he wanted to represent Samoa instead.

The Sydney Roosters winger says he has chosen to honour his family, but Australia's loss is Samoa's gain.

Samoa failed to win a pool game at the 2017 World Cup, but they are considered contenders for this year's tournament, with six Penrith Panthers part of their impressive squad.

Related Rugby League News

Rugby League World Cup: All you need to know

Herbie Farnworth

While his inclusion will ruffle a few feathers, Brisbane Broncos centre Herbie Farnworth qualifies for England through birth.

The 22-year-old was born in Lancashire, but he moved to Australia at the start of his career, and it is a decision that has been vindicated. Farnworth may not be that well-known to English fans, but he has scored 19 tries in 53 appearances for Brisbane.

After recovering from a bicep injury, he is desperate to help Shaun Wane's side, and he will be doing all he can to prove he belongs on the big stage.

Fouad Yaha

The Catalans Dragons winger scored 20 tries for the French outfit this season, a record only beaten by Bevan French, Ken Sio, Tommy Makinson and Liam Marshall.

The 26-year-old has already proven he is one of the best wingers in Super League, but he will now get the chance to shine on the world stage for France.

France are considered outsiders to win the event at 350/1, but if Yaha can stay fit for the next month, they will feel they can finish second to either England or Samoa in Group A.

Kotoni Staggs

Tonga were named in Group D alongside Papua New Guinea, Wales and the Cook Islands, and Kristian Woolf's side should progress from the group and reach the knockout stages.

The form of Kotoni Staggs could be crucial for Tonga if they want to go all the way at 12/1.

Injuries have derailed his progress during the last few seasons, but at 23, he has plenty to prove on the world's biggest stage. Woolf is likely to use him at centre, and his power and pace should cause carnage this winter.

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