RLWC 2017

Kiwi captain says Cup opener against Samoa a must win

An extensive and occasionally fraught preparation will come to a head in Auckland when Blair's Kiwis take on Samoa at Mount Smart stadium tonight.

But for the 41-Test prop, all the potential excuses -- injuries, defections and enforced absences -- would not hold come game time.

The team had enjoyed a solid training stint, including a three-day bonding trip, and had every belief they could make World Cup waves.

That needed to start immediately against the Samoans.

New Zealand v Samoa: RLWC preview

Several of the players who will take the field in the Group B match are dual New Zealand-Samoa internationals, showcasing the close bond the two nations share.

New Zealand will have Brad Takairangi, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Isaac Liu and Danny Levi making their Kiwis debut, while Kodi Nikorima and Shaun Johnson will play in the halves together for the first time. 

Nations unite for Rugby League World Cup 2017 launch

Tournament CEO Andrew Hill, chairman Dr George Peponis, OAM, and Queensland Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games, Kate Jones, were on hand to launch the 28-game series that culminates with the final in Brisbane on Saturday, December 2.

The 15th Rugby League World Cup, which was first played in France in 1954, will kick-off in Melbourne on Friday night with the clash of century-old rivals, England and Australia, coached by iconic Queensland league figures Wayne Bennett and Mal Meninga.

Canberra Raiders lock Sia Soliola puts hand up for Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup

With the World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea at the end of October, Soliola said he'd put his hand up for the Samoan side if he was wanted and his body was right at the end of the NRL season.

He'll also discuss it with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart before coming to a final decision.

Soliola underwent off-season surgery to get his knee cleaned up at the end of the 2016 season, but was expecting to be fit for the Green Machine's one-and-only trial - against the Newcastle Knights at Seiffert Oval on Saturday.