All of the talk in the lead-up to the Rugby League World Cup has centred almost exclusively on the battle between Australia, New Zealand the strongest Pacific Island nations in Samoa and Tonga.
With Australia and New Zealand almost undoubtedly the strongest side, their road to playing each other in the final has been blocked by the fact they are on the same side of the draw and the latest they could face off is in the semi-finals.
That means at least one of England, Samoa or Tonga will make the final of the tournament – unless a major surprise can be sprung by France, Papua New Guinea or the other sides in Group A and D, being Greece, the Cook Islands or Wales.
Any of those sides knocking off the aforementioned three though is unlikely, although there is plenty of value to be found with a pnxbet promo code on any of the sides who are on the other side of the draw to Australia and New Zealand.
The opening game of the World Cup saw England take on Samoa in a game which likely will decide who finished in top spot out of Group A, and while Tonga are still in Group D, the confidence boost England received from that win will be indescribable.
Coming into the tournament, Samoa were seen by many as the team who would be able to upset the status quo, and they were destined to prove it during the tournament opener against England, played in front of a huge crowd.
But instead of even competing with England, Samoa, with their excellently talented forward pack and a backline which seemed to have all the right attributes outside of the spine, fell apart. The Pacific Island nation would wind up conceding 60 points during what was an embarrassing encounter to open the tournament, with a trio of injuries not likely to help their cause moving forward.
While the true level of Samoa – a great team without direction – was found out during the game, the question has to be asked around whether England have ultimately been underrated heading into the tournament.
With a number of NRL players picked – including Herbie Farnworth and Victor Radley alongside others – and the very best that the Super League has to offer, England looked like a well-oiled machine against Samoa.
The best part for England about the way the groupings have worked for this tournament is that they will only have to beat one of Australia and New Zealand, and, should they make the final, will have had five games to prepare for it.
Whether that will be enough to get them over the line or not is another question altogether, and the talent of the NRL compared to the Super League is night and day.
It would be fair to say right now though, based on the opening week of fixtures, that England look to be the best chance of stopping either Australia or New Zealand in the big dance, provided they can keep pace with the likes of Tonga and Papua New Guinea during the knockouts.