Ireland and Scotland discover World Cup qualifying opponents

IRELAND will face familiar opposition when they bid for World Cup 2021 qualification next year – but Scotland will break new ground.
Stuart Littler’s Wolfhounds will be joined by Italy and Spain, both of whom they have played before, in group one of the European play-offs.
In group two, the Bravehearts of Scotland – coached by Chris Chester and John Duffy – will have first-time meetings with Russia and either Greece or Norway.
The play-off between Greece and Norway will take place in London on May 18, with plans to make it a double-header event.
The top two from each European play-off group will go through to the 2021 finals.
On the weekend of October 26/27, it’s Spain v Ireland and Scotland v Russia.
On November 2/3, Italy face Spain while Greece or Norway take on Scotland.
And on November 9/10, it’s Ireland v Italy and Russia v Greece or Norway.
The Rugby League European Federation will reveal the venues and exact dates for the six matches early next year.
Hosts England, holders Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Lebanon and Papua New Guinea all qualify automatically for the 16-nation finals in three years’ time.
France and Wales have sealed places as the winners and runners-up of this year’s European Championship.
And Jamaica qualified by winning the Americas Championship, leaving runners-up USA to play Cook Islands in an intercontinental play-off for the other finals spot alongside the four who progress from the European groups, the draw for which as made by St Helens players Tommy Makinson (England), Regan Grace (Wales) and Theo Fages (France).