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Rugby league World Cup draw released, Australia to open campaign in Melbourne

ABC News ABC News 19/07/2016

Australia has won rugby league's World Cup a record 10 times, most recently in England and Wales in 2013. © AFP: Paul Ellis Australia has won rugby league's World Cup a record 10 times, most recently in England and Wales in 2013. The Kangaroos will open their rugby league World Cup campaign against England in Melbourne as Australia and New Zealand hosts the 2017 tournament.

The draw for the competition, which will run from October to December in 2017, was released on Tuesday and allows Australia to plot its path to the final, which will be played at Brisbane's Lang Park.

Before then will be a testing tournament opener against England at AAMI Park on October 27, before two further pool matches against France and Lebanon in Canberra and Sydney respectively.

Australia's match against Lebanon is one of only two matches at Sydney Football Stadium - the other also involving Lebanon, but against England - as the competition takes international rugby league out of the capital cities.

Games will be held in Cairns, Townsville and Port Moresby, as well as areas outside Australia's traditional rugby league heartland like Perth and Darwin.

"The tournament draw demonstrates how far and wide we are taking matches, from established rugby league communities, to those new and emerging fan bases in all three countries," tournament chief executive Michael Brown said.

"Over the course of the pool stages we have looked to position matches in strong rugby league communities and where large populations of ex-pats, Pacifica and Indigenous fans live, to give those who love the sport and their national teams the chance to see some World Cup action.

"The decision to take matches to places like Darwin, Perth, Christchurch and Port Moresby were made with the future of the game in mind. They are matches we believe will give profile to the sport in markets that have already shown an appetite for rugby league."

Australia has dominated the tournament since its 1935 establishment, winning it 10 times, well clear of England's three titles and New Zealand's one.

Australia's group fixtures: 

v England, October 27, AAMI Park

v France, November 3, Canberra Stadium

v Lebanon, November 11, SFS

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