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Rugby League World Cup: Meet the women's teams taking part in the eight-team tournament in England

We profile the eight teams taking part in this year's Women's Rugby League World Cup; hosts England get the tournament under way at Headingley against debutants Brazil on Tuesday, November 1 (kick-off 2.30pm)

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 16/11/2021 - Rugby League - Rugby League World Cup 2021 - Manchester Central Convention Centre, Manchester, England - The Rubgy League World Cup Trophies at the Manchester Central Convention Centre with John Bateman, Tom Halliwell & Amy Hardcastle.

The 2021 Women's Rugby League World Cup kicks off with a double-header on Tuesday, November 1 and we take a look at the eight teams taking part in the tournament...

Group A


Head coach: Craig Richards.

Captain: Emily Rudge.

Picture by Will Palmer/ - 26/09/2022 - England Women...s Rugby League World Cup Announcement - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - England Women...s Head Coach Craig Richards and Captain Emily Rudge after the Rugby League World Cup Squad Announcement
Image: Craig Richards and Emily Rudge are aiming to lead England to World Cup glory

Previous World Cup best: Third place/semi-finals x3 (2008, 2013, 2017).

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Player to watch: Tara-Jane Stanley. The goal-kicking full-back is the reigning Woman of Steel after a stellar 2022 season in the Betfred Women's Super League which saw her help York reach the Grand Final for the first time and will be aiming to take that form into a home World Cup.

What to expect: Reaching the semi-finals again will be the bare minimum Craig Richards' team expect of themselves, but the target is ultimately to go on and lift the World Cup for the first time at Old Trafford on November 19. To do that though, they will have to overcome the two big guns of reigning champions Australia as well as New Zealand.

Papua New Guinea

Head coach: Ben Jeffries.

Captain: Elise Albert.

Picture by SpiderTekPNG/Duco/ - supplied and distributed via 16/11/2019 - International Rugby League Papua New Guinea Orchids v England Women
Image: Papua New Guinea were victorious against England in 2019

Previous World Cup best: Group stage (2017).

Player to watch: Elise Albert. The prop is one of the biggest names in Papua New Guinean women's rugby league and a star of the NRLW with St George Illawarra Dragons. She led from the front as the teams secured an historic international win over England three years ago and can be expected to do the same at this year's global gathering.

What to expect: The Orchids are aiming to build on their group stage appearance on their debut at the 2017 World Cup and will have their sights on at least making the knock-out stages. However, they were denied doing that by a defeat to Canada five years ago and the match between those two could be crucial in deciding which side advances.


Head coach: Paul Grundy.

Captain: Maria Graf.

Previous World Cup best: First appearance.

Player to watch: Maria Graf. Graf has tried her hand at multiple sports, including judo and football, before finding rugby. As a Brazilian U18 champion, she will bring some much-needed experience to this side.

What to expect: The Amazonas are making history as the first Latin American team to have qualified for a Rugby League World Cup and they will be oozing with pride as they get the Women's tournament under way against England. Only Maria Graf and Tatiane Fernandes have pulled on the Brazil jersey before so it will be a side full of passion, up and coming stars and one the world will be watching.


Head coach: Mike Castle.

Captain: Gabrielle Hindley.

Laura Mariu looks for options on attack. Kiwi Ferns v England, Women...s Rugby League World Cup Semi Final at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney, Australia on 26 November 2017. Copyright Image: David Neilson /
Image: Laura Mariu will represent Canada at this year's World Cup

Previous World Cup best: Semi-finals (2017).

Player to watch: Laura Mariu. The stand-off is an icon of New Zealand women's rugby league, having represented the Kiwi Ferns in five World Cups, but at 41 will be lining up for the Ravens this year due to being eligible through her Canadian mother. Mariu's experience and ability will be vital for the North American side.

What to expect: Canada reached the semi-finals on their World Cup debut five years ago and will likely be fighting it out with Papua New Guinea to join hosts England in the last four from Group A this time around. A repeat of that would be a fine achievement for the team.

Group B


Head coach: Brad Donald.

Captain: Sam Bremner.

Australia celebrate after winning the women's Rugby League World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, 2 December 2017. Copyright Image: Tertius Pickard /
Image: Australia are the reigning champions

Previous World Cup best: Winners x2 (2013,2017).

Player to watch: Tarryn Aiken. It is difficult to pick just one player out of a star-studded Jillaroos team to watch, but the 23-year-old is one of the emerging stars of the NRLW. Brisbane Broncos stand-off Aiken was nominated for the woman's Dally M accolade this year and named in the team of the year and could well star for her country too as they seek to defend their world title.

What to expect: Australia have won the past two women's World Cup and will be confident of making it three in a row. Widely expected to reach the final at Old Trafford on October 19, the question remains as to whether trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand or hosts England can prevent them from lifting the trophy.

New Zealand

Head coach: Ricky Henry.

Captain: Krystal Rota.

Raecene Mcgregor celebrates after scoring. Australia v New Zealand women. Final.  Day 2 of the Rugby League World Cup 9s, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, Australia, 19th October 2019. Copyright Photo: David Neilson /
Image: Raecene McGregor is one of the stars of the New Zealand team

Previous World Cup best: Winners x3 (2000, 2003, 2008).

Player to watch: Raecene McGregor. As the 2022 NRLW Dally M Medalist, McGregor has been lighting up the NRLW with the Sydney Roosters. With 10 try assists to her name, McGregor has become an attacking threat to look out for, and at half-back she is certain to cause some damage.

What to expect: The Kiwi Ferns are bringing an experienced side to the World Cup and are heavily predicted to go all the way to the final. With NRLW stars such as Annetta-Claudia Nu'uausala, Amber Paris-Hall and Brianna Clark alongside the likes of Shanice Parker, New Zealand have threats all across the park and their Group B clash with Australia on November 10 will certainly be one to watch.


Head coach: Vincent Baloup.

Captain: Alice Varela.

Picture by Paul Currie/ - 18/06/2022 - Rugby League - Women...s International Match - England v France - Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, England - Jodie Cunningham of England is tackled by Dorine Samarra of France
Image: France faced England in a mid-year international in June

Previous World Cup best: Fourth place (2013).

Player to watch: Laureane Biville. Regular watchers of the Betfred Women's Super League will have seen the centre or second row in action for Wigan Warriors during her spell with them in 2022. Biville has experience of playing in Australia as well and was named player of the match in France's defeat to England in June's mid-season international.

What to expect: France are in a tough Group B at this year's women's tournament and have big matches against Australia and New Zealand that could end their World Cup dreams at the group stages. However, they have some established stars that will be steadying the ship and this devoted side will be doing all they can to put in some big performances.

Cook Islands

Head coach: Rusty Matua.

Captain: Kimiora Breayley-Nati.

Emily Rudge & Shona Hoyle Defence, England v Cook Islands - Women...s Rugby League World Cup match at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney, Australia on 22 November 2017..Copyright photo: Delly Carr /
Image: Cook Islands missed out on the semi-finals on points difference in 2017

Previous World Cup best: Group stage (2003, 2017).

Player to watch: Mackenzie Wiki. If the surname sounds familiar to rugby league followers, then the reason is because the 21-year-old is the daughter of New Zealand men's great Ruben Wiki. Mackenzie is determined to forge her own name is the sport and has ambitions of playing in the NRLW and has an opportunity to impress on the global stage at this tournament.

What to expect: The Cook Islands only missed out on a place in the semi-finals in 2017 after finishing behind England on points difference, although like France they are up against in in terms of reaching the last four this year with the two powerhouse nations of New Zealand and Australia in their group as well.

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