France can see off PNG
Our columnist Ian Millward previews the opening fixtures as the Rugby League World Cup gets under way.
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They are a set of sensational fixtures too with Australia fancied to get the better of England in a mouthwatering curtain-raiser.
France are included in the weekend double as they take on PNG.
I think it's fair to say England's preparation for this game has been something of a disaster. I always felt going to South Africa beforehand would draw out the length of the tournament for the players, then they went into camp at Loughborough.
Last week's debacle against Italy followed and to make matters worse they've lost Gareth Hock for the tournament, James Graham for this game and Sean O'Loughlin to injury.
I always thought Australia were potentially vulnerable for this fixture. Some of their players haven't played for over a month now but all the reports from the training ground are positive.
The roof will be on in Cardiff and that will suit Tim Sheen's men and their left-hand side attack of Brett Morris, Greg Inglis and Greg Bird, with Johnathan Thurston pulling the strings, has the potential to cause England all kind of problems.
It could be that Kevin Sinfield, Carl Ablett and Josh Charnley are in for a very testing afternoon.
Inglis has scored nine tries in his last eight appearances for Australia and five from five against England. He looks a cracking bet for first try scorer or to score at any time.
Australia have gone for a mobile pack of forwards and while I was surprised to see Brent Tate get the nod over Michael Jennings at centre, I like the look of their line-up.
England have lost a lot of quality from their ranks. I still don't think their halves have gelled and the lack of a strike centre is an obvious weakness. I've gone very cold on England of late and while I do worry Australia may run out of puff in the final quarter, I do expect them to win and cover.
Italy are on a real high following their win over England and are a bigger and stronger team than Wales here.
The home side will be full of pride in their jersey and play with great emotion but I do worry about a potential lack of quality in the halves. Italy to win and cover.
As with a lot of games this weekend the weather will have a big influence on this one. PNG like to move the ball around and play an expansive game but conditions are unlikely to lend themselves to that.
I'm siding with France who are fairly settled with so many of the players coming from the Catalan Dragons. They'll play a tighter, higher percentage game than their opponents and can win and cover.
Richard Agar has had a good week's preparation with his men and I fancy a better kicking game from France to be the key to a comfortable win.
I really fancy New Zealand here and the only worry over whether they can cover the handicap or not is the weather.
Samoa have targeted the games against PNG and France as the ones they need to win to progress in the tournament and they do have the benefit of being under no pressure going into this one.
However their lack of a recognised hooker is a major worry and I have to go with New Zealand to make a statement of intent with a big win.
Fiji's biggest strength is their back three, their full-back and wingers return the ball better than almost any other team in world rugby.
Ireland are thin on the ground when it comes to established, quality players and while wet weather has the potential to limit Fiji's scoring prowess I still expect them to win and cover.
Tonga usually have an advantage over other sides in the pack, they are full of raw power. However Scotland have been able to significantly strengthen in that department and I think they'll go really well here.
It goes without saying that Danny Brough had an outstanding domestic season with Huddersfield and his kicking game means Scotland could even go close to winning this one.