Wales (25/1 tournament outright) full-back Elliot Kear is confident his team can cause an upset by beating France in their Autumn International Series opener on Saturday.
The two sides get the competition under way in Lens and with England also involved it gives them the perfect opportunity to see how they’re shaping up ahead of next year’s World Cup.
The Dragons caused a major shock in 2010 when they defeated France (20/1 tournament outright) in Albi, a victory that earned them a place in the 2011 Four Nations.
Rugby league is currently on the rise in Wales, with more and more schools taking part, and coach Iestyn Harris has already expressed his belief that his side now have the opportunity to establish the sport in their country.
Kear wholeheartedly agrees and feels that beating one of the game’s biggest nations in their own backyard would give his team a massive lift ahead of the World Cup.
“To go back there, into their backyard, and do it again would be a really good achievement,” he said. “Everyone is picturing us as underdogs again and we can use that to our advantage.
“This can be like a base line that we can go from because France are going to be one of the better teams in the World Cup.”
Leeds Rhinos (10/1 Super League Grand Final outright with bet365) veteran Jamie Peacock has decided to announce his retirement from international rugby league to concentrate on playing for the West Yorkshire outfit.
The experienced 34-year-old made his England debut back in 2000 and has since been a key figure in the side, becoming captain of the team who beat the Exiles 18-10 earlier this month.
Having seen off the Exiles at Langtree Park, Peacock has decided to call time on his career with England, which has surprised many with the World Cup next year edging ever closer.
However, the former Bradford Bulls forward is determined to keep on playing for Leeds (13/2 Challenge Cup outright with bet365) and believes now is the right time to step aside on the international scene.
He said via a Rugby Football League statement: “The last achievement I felt I could have with England would be to right the wrong and beat the Exiles team and this has happened.
“To play and captain your country is the highest honour within the game and this was a decision that was not taken lightly.
“I felt that the time would be right for me to step down and solely concentrate on playing for my club.”
James Graham has been named as the England captain for the Four Nations tournament, which gets underway on Saturday with a clash against hosts New Zealand (England 10/1, New Zealand 10/3 – tournament outright with bet365).
The St Helens star beat the likes of Sean O’Loughlin and Gareth Ellis to secure the role and the the 25-year-old takes over from former skippers Adrian Morley and Jamie Peacock, who were both ruled out through injury.
“When [England coach] Steve McNamara offered me the captaincy I had no hesitation in saying yes,” a delighted Graham said.
“It’s a great honour and I am deeply proud that I have this chance. It came as a surprise but hopefully I can reward his judgement with some good performances on the field.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, perhaps it’s one of the honours that only sink in once you’ve retired.”
McNamara, meanwhile, backed the 2008 Super League Man of Steel to make a success of leading the team as they look to cause an upset and claim the title off strong favourites Australia (3/10).
“James was one of a number of outstanding candidates for the position and I am delighted he is the new England captain,” he said.