New Zealand’s world number one ranking will be up for grabs in the Ladbrokes Four Nations Series which gets under way on Friday night.
The Kiwis go into the tournament in pole position despite losing their last three matches but their lead is now a tenuous one.
Australia will take over at the top if they regain the trophy they last won in 2011 while England could also go top with victory at Anfield on November 20, subject to the margin of victory in the clash of the Antipodean rivals in Coventry on Saturday week.
“We are looking more at improving performance than being number one,” said Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga. “That will take care of itself if we get everything else right.”
Scotland, who make their first appearance in the Four Nations at Hull KR on Friday night, will start in ninth spot while, outside of the top 10, Jamaica have made the biggest improvement, climbing from 27 to 16 as a result of their recent games against Canada, USA, Ireland and Wales.
Leading rankings: 1 New Zealand; 2 Australia; 3 England; 4 Samoa; 5 France; 6 Fiji; 7 Ireland; 8 Wales 9 Scotland; 10 USA.