RLWC exposes divide between hemispheres

If everything goes to script there will be just one true northern hemisphere national team in the quarter-finals of the Rugby League World Cup.

Hosts England have already assured their spot in the last eight and while Lebanon will face Australia, Michael Cheika's squad is almost entirely drawn from players based and developed in the NRL and the state leagues.

France missed the chance to join them with a 62-4 loss to Samoa on Sunday (AEDT).

Should PNG withstand a Wales side, who have only scored 18 points this tournament, on Monday (Tuesday AEDT), the remaining nations in the last eight will be from the southern hemisphere.

"That's what we have started to discuss with the boys and (French director of rugby) Trent (Robinson)," said France coach Laurent Frayssinous.

"It's about how we will be in the quarter-finals in 2025.

"It's all about the small details that you can and cannot do at this level and we have three years to work on that."

Each north hemisphere nation's playing depth is different.

France's squad are drawn almost exclusively from two Super League clubs and they appear the nation next most able to break into that last eight.

Wales have placed an onus on homegrown talent, but few players are playing full-time.

Ireland, Italy and Scotland are entirely built on the diaspora while first-timers Greece and Jamaica have a blend of heritage and domestic players.

With one group game to go in a tournament that expanded to 16 teams from the 2017 edition, the average scoreline has been 51-9.

The adoption of the NRL's six-again rule has undoubtedly had an impact on teams calling on part-time players.

There are calls to reduce the number of teams competing at the group stage in future or to introduce a seeded format.

But for Reggae Warriors assistant coach Roy Calvert, whose organisation doesn't even own one rugby league field, the only way his nation can improve is by facing the giants of the game.

"I've seen people say the World Cup should be played between five nations, that's rubbish," Calvert said.

"Is it really a true world game?

"We've got thousands of kids who are looking for an opportunity and rugby league is offering that to those young people.

"In Jamaica we are isolated because we are the only nation in the Caribbean.

"Having internationals is the only way it'll grow.

"Fine, you'll have big scores but tell me a World Cup where there isn't lopsided scores."