The World Cup kicks off in stunning style with hosts England now remarkably listed as underdogs when they take on the heavily touted Samoa.
The England gerrymander of the draw may be coming undone, at least according to the market, with Samoa firming from marginal outsiders into clear favourites in the opening game, a win that would put them in the box seat to win their way to the final.
While the early money has been for Samoa, this price seems nothing more than Australian arrogance and a dismissal of Super League talent. Samoa have 22 of their 24 playing in the NRL including a host of recent premiership winners with Penrith. Having so many players go so deep plus the celebrations that ensued may not be a recipe for success.
There are also major question marks over coach Matt Parish and the consistent under performance of the nation at major events.
Samoa have named a strong team for the opener but there are glaring weaknesses including Danny Levi starting at hooker, some average edges and a lack of depth on the bench.
This may not be the most star-studded English team ever put together but there is plenty of talent, the mix of the team looks spot on and they are a team that is well and truly battle hardened.
Sam Tomkins remains an elite talent and veterans like John Bateman, Luke Thompson and Kallum Watkins have done it all before while there is a really talented crop of youngsters like Jack Wellsby and Morgan Knowles being mixed in, to say nothing of Victor Radley.
On home turf, England just should not be underdogs.
Same Game Multi
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is on international debut but will benefit starting on the left wing and has 14 tries in 24 games starting on the wing or in the centres.
Veteran Kallum Watkins plays his first Test since the 2017 decider and he does it off the back of an excellent tryscoring season with Salford. He has 13 tries in 25 internationals.
Tom Burgess is a sneaky good tryscorer for a prop. He has three tries in 25 internationals and he has 14 tries across his last five NRL seasons. He can really make an impact.