With the dust settling on a dramatic and hugely exciting Super 8s – culminating with Leeds’ treble victory last weekend at Old Trafford – the attention now turns to the autumn internationals, of which there are plenty for Rugby League fans to get stuck into.
At the heart of those games for many will be the dream of World Cup glory as the games are either part of the RLWC2017 Qualification process or a central plank in the planning for an assault on the World Cup, which will be held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
It all begins on Friday evening in Wrexham where Wales will try to up-set the current European Champions, Scotland in the opening game of the European Championship.
Saturday has three games across the hemispheres; The Cook Islands will face Tonga at Campbelltown in Sydney in a one-off game to determine the final Pacific Qualifier for RLWC2017.
In Athens, Greece will face an uphill struggle as they take on Spain for the final place in next year’s European Qualification Tournament. In this pool all three outcomes are still possible. Spain, who defeated Malta, are the strong favourites to qualify with either a win or a draw being sufficient. Malta could still win if Greece can pull off a significant victory and Greece, could in theory still finish top and qualify with a massive victory over Spain. A massive challenge from Wales, Ireland, Serbia, Russia and Italy await the eventual qualifiers.
Finally on Saturday, the historic town of Albi will host France versus Ireland. Ireland defeated France in the European Championship just twelve months ago and just missed out on lifting the trophy. France have one eye on the World Cup and will want to please not only the huge local crowd in the stadium but also the TV audience who will be watching on Bein Sport.
The curtain comes down on Sunday in Pennsylvania where the USA will want to square the Colonial Cup Series against Canada, the Wolverines took game one. This match is the final game before the RLWC2017 Americas Qualification tournament to be held in Florida where the Hawks and Wolverines will be joined by Jamaica to compete for the American spot at the World Cup.