BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 02: The Australian Kangaroos celebrate victory as captain Cameron Smith holds up the world cup trophy after the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final between the Australian Kangaroos and England at Suncorp Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Australia, as they seem to do at every other Rugby League World Cup, will enter the postponed 2022 tournament as favourites.

Originally supposed to be held in the 2021 timeslot, the tournament was postponed by 12 months over concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as workload management for NRL players who had spent the second half of the year in a bubble as the competition relocated to Queensland.

While the Kangaroos enter the tournament as favourites, they don't have a perfect record when it comes to Rugby League World Cups, although they have won 11 out of 15 World Cups.

The gap between nations is slowly getting smaller though, although betting odds don't reflect that, meaning you can get excellent long-term value ahead of the tournament with bet365 bonus bets.

New Zealand, as always, will be the greatest threat to the Kangaroos. Drawing most of their squad from the NRL, the Kiwis finally broke through to win rugby league's most prestigious tournament for the first time in 2007 as they defeated Australia at Suncorp Stadium. It broke a run of six straight tournament victories for the Aussies.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 09: Captain Benji Marshall of the Kiwis (C) and his team mates perform the Haka prior to the Rugby League Test match between the New Zealand Kiwis and the Great Britain Rugby League Lions at Orangetheory Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

England (or Great Britain as they were formerly known) are the other major threat, but haven't won a tournament since 1972, when it was hosted in France. England have, however, made the final at two of the last five tournaments.

That includes the 2017 tournament when they lost the final 6-0 to Australia.

The gap to other nations is shrinking though, with the Pacific Islands and France slowly improving at the 13-man sport.

Fiji have made the semi-finals at the last three tournaments and have an ever-expanding presence of players to call on from the NRL, including the likes of Maika Sivo from the Parramatta Eels and Viliame Kikau from the Penrith Panthers.

They may not have made a final, but you only have to see the passion they play with, and the talent they possess throughout their squad to know they are better than no chance of repeating at the very least their trip to the semi-finals.

It's Tonga who have come on in leaps and bounds though, making their first World Cup semi-final in 2017.

They may lack playmaking, but they have a brutal forward pack led by Jason Taumalolo from the North Queensland Cowboys. With more players choosing to represent their island heritage, and the game continuing to develop in those areas of the world, it's only a matter of time before one of the Island nations breaks through with a spot in the Rugby League World Cup final.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 20: Andrew Fifita of Tonga leads the Sipi Tau during the International Test match between Tonga and Australia at Mount Smart Stadium on October 20, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Tonga have pulled off some startling wins in recent times, and only lost to England by two points at the 2017 World Cup semi-final. Thye have since beaten Great Britain in 2019, before doing the same to Australia the following week.

It was the first time Australia had lost to a Tier 2 nation in 1978.

France too continue to develop. Once a strong nation in the rugby league sphere, playing in two of the first four World Cup finals, they have fallen away, however, the continued success of the Catalans Dragons in the English Super League, as well as the success of Toulouse Olympique, who have been promoted to the Super League for next season is seeing a slow re-emergence of the sport in the country.

Can anyone stop Australia? It might seem unlikely, but the World Cup is more wide open than any in recent memory.