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Australia to launch Rugby League World Cup defence against Fiji

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London (AFP)

Australia will begin the defence of their Rugby League World Cup title against Fiji at next year's tournament in England, organisers announced on Tuesday.

The 2017 champions' first match will take place on October 23 in Hull after hosts England open the tournament in Newcastle against Samoa earlier that day.

Australia also face Scotland and Italy in Group B.

England, the defeated finalists in 2017, face Samoa, France and Greece in Group A while 2008 winners New Zealand are in Group C with Lebanon, Jamaica and Ireland.

A total of 16 nations are competing in four groups at the men's event, which ends with the final at Old Trafford on November 27.

Jon Dutton, the tournament's chief executive, said: "This is a huge moment for the tournament and for fans across the world as we reveal the full fixture schedule.

"The tournament has been gaining momentum over recent months and fans can really look forward to being part of this unique, global event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify."

For the first time the women's and wheelchair competitions are being staged alongside the men's tournament, with all three finals taking place on the same weekend.

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