The Rugby League World Cup has its critics – 14 countries are set to compete but one can write one’s own ticket about 11 of them – but that does not mean that it is a punting desert, particularly with regards to exotic market value.
Australia is deservedly odds on to win the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and make amends for its shock failure to win the last tournament on home soil five years ago. Australia has some of the world’s best-ever rugby league players in its squad – Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith spring to mind and that is no knock on the likes of Cooper Cronk, Paul Gallen and Johnathan Thurston – and the motivation to right the wrong of 2008. Having battered New Zealand 32-12 in Canberra earlier this year, Australia is the class act of the field and, all things being equal, should win the title.
England and New Zealand are, realistically, the only teams that can prevent Australia captain Smith lifting aloft the Rugby League World Cup. But England lost a warm-up match against Italy and New Zealand’s team spirit may be found wanting when the heat is on because of the way in which multi-sport star Sonny Bill Williams joined its roster.
New Zealand announced its squad on the understanding that Williams, who shone for Sydney in its National Rugby League Grand Final win over Manly Warringah, would be unavailable due to other commitments. But Williams had a change of heart not long after New Zealand went public with its roster, the end result being that Tohu Harris went from being on the plane to Europe to being surplus to requirements. Williams polarises people and, while he is a phenomenal talent, it will be interesting to see what happens if New Zealand’s Rugby League World Cup campaign hits a bump or two.
Australia is the logical Rugby League World Cup pick but its odds of 1.40 with Spreadex does not set one’s heart racing. However, there is a way of backing Australia to dominate the tournament at odds against thanks to Paddy Power, which is offering odds of 2.50 that a Kangaroos player ends up being the top try scorer during the five-week competition.
The last three editions of the Rugby League World Cup have been played in a similar format to that of this year’s event and, in each instance, an Australia player has topped the try-scoring chart. Steve Menzies, who only pulled the pin on his remarkable playing career last month, was the 1995 Rugby League World Cup top try scorer with six. Wendell Sailor was the 2000 Rugby League World Cup top try scorer with 10. And Slater was the 2008 Rugby League World Cup top try scorer with seven. Paddy Power’s offer seems remarkably generous.
If one wants to have a crack at backing the Rugby League World Cup top try scorer then the best bet given the state of the market is probably Darius Boyd at odds of 11.00 with Paddy Power. Boyd plays fullback for Newcastle but he plays wing for his state, Queensland, and his country because he cannot displace Slater in the number one jersey. Boyd does not mind one bit since he is regularly the man on the end of Thurston passes at both State of Origin and Test level. Boyd was the top try scorer in this year’s State of Origin series because Thurston prefers to attack down Australia’s left side and Boyd patrols its left wing. BetVictor has done its homework in quoting Boyd at odds of only 6.00. Boyd should be the outright favourite ahead of Brett Morris, Inglis, Slater and anyone playing for a team other than Australia.
An interesting Rugby League World Cup try-scoring match bet is Paddy Power’s mythical clash between Thurston and Cronk, with both Australia playmakers trading at odds of 1.83. The value lies in supporting Thurston because, while there is very little to choose between the NRL numbers of the North Queensland and Melbourne stars, the Cowboys five-eighth has an edge over the Storm halfback in representative games, particularly State of Origin matches. This is because Thurston dominates at all levels, whereas Cronk plays a supporting role in Queensland and Australia sides.