As the much anticipated Rugby League World Cup gets underway, many players from Merseyside and the nearby region will see this as a chance to put their name in lights on home turf.

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From part-timers to NRL and Super League superstars, the show is finally being brought together here in England, with some fixtures taking place in St Helens and Warrington.  

While the world class quality is still heavily distributed through the likes of Australia, New Zealand and England, there’s a real feeling in the Rugby League world that players opting to play for other teams they have allegiances with, including some of our home nations, could stir the pot.  

So, let’s look at some of the players to watch out for from our region and how the mood is in their camps. 


One of arguably five teams in serious contention to win the competition alongside Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa. England boast a lot of talent throughout their squad even with injuries suffered by the likes of John Bateman and Johnny Lomax.  

St Helens born Luke Thompson has been a name on many people’s lips after an eventful 12 months on and off the field with the NRL’s Canterbury Bulldogs. A vital part in St Helens’ title winning campaigns during his time at the club, Thompson earnt himself a move down under at the end of 2020. Since then, the prop forward has continued his form when given the chance over the past couple of years, and despite injury and family-related issues of late, looks to be a key part of Shaun Wane’s pack this Autumn, as he returns to home soil.  

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Mike Cooper is another of England’s pack from the region included in Wane’s squad. The prop from Warrington has done enough in his first campaign with Wigan to earn a place in the 19 for this weekend’s opener against Samoa and will be hoping to make an impact in what will be a telling game for the team. Beating the NRL heavy Samoans could put England in good stead to win Group A and obtain a favourable fixture if they are to make the knockout rounds. 


The Dragons face a brutal set of fixtures with Tonga, Cook Islands and Papa New Guinea for company in Group D. While on paper there is quite the gulf in quality between the Welsh and their Pacific opponents, the likes of Matty Fozard, born in Widnes and number 9 for the Vikings, will be looking to make an impression.  

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Along with Gavin Bennion and Anthony Walker, they form a local contingent of players in the Welsh squad with ties to the region. Their opening game against the Cook Islands could potentially decide their fate, as chances to secure points against Tonga and PNG – both of which can beat anyone on their day – look bleak. John Kear’s men will be embodying the spirit of the competition with a mix of part-timers and Super League regulars, and anything can happen in this great sport. 


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The only home nation with no Merseyside affiliations in the squad, Scotland have also been handed a brutal draw. With favourites Australia almost a dead cert to win the group, beating Fiji to the second qualifying spot could prove a harder feat than their Quarter Final run in the last World Cup in 2017.

The addition of NRL consistent Euan Aitken could provide some inspiration for the Bravehearts, as well as exciting Brisbane Broncos prop Logan Bayliss-Brow, who could yet help cause an upset in Group B. 


Perhaps one of the underdogs of the competition, many have backed Ireland to make it out of a generous Group C. New Zealand will prove a tough task, but with debutants Jamaica likely to bottom the group it leaves Lebanon and Ireland to battle it out for the second place in the group, meaning they have a great chance.  

Championship back Ed Chamberlain and prop Dan Norman both of Warrington have made the squad, alongside Ormskirk’s Keanan Brand. Brand, who can play at centre or on the wing, really could be one to look out for this month.

Following a fantastic season at the Widnes Vikings in 2019, he was named the Championship’s Young Player of the Year, seeing him move to Warrington. While it didn’t work out with the Wolves, the boy has talent and is still only 23. The World Cup could be a great chance to catch some attention. 

Richie Myler is also from the region and will undoubtedly be a key player for the Wolfhounds. After reaching the Grand Final with Leeds last season, the full back declared his allegiance to Ireland in August, which was a huge boost for their tournament hopes. Scoring 10 tries in 20 outings for the Rhinos he arrives in great form, which he will hope to carry into their first game against Jamaica on Sunday. 
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Along with the likes of Luke Keary and James Bentley it seems Ged Corcoran has put a solid squad together for the tournament. Although, the big thing standing in their way could be the chance of drawing Australia in the quarter finals, which looks increasingly likely.