England to face Samoa in 2021 Rugby League World Cup opener

England will play Samoa in the opening match of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup at St James’ Park, Newcastle.

The Pacific Islanders were the first nation to be drawn out of the hat by dual-code international Jason Robinson and 2012 Olympic rowing gold medal winner Dame Katherine Grainger and placed in Group A alongside the hosts.

The first-ever public draw was hosted by Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace in his first engagement since he and wife Meghan Markle quit as senior royals.

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England’s other group opponents will be France and World Cup debutants Greece.

Holders Australia will play Fiji, Scotland and Italy in Group B while New Zealand were paired with Lebanon, Jamaica and Ireland in Group C.

In Group D, fourth seeds Tonga will play Papua New Guinea, Wales and Cook Islands.

England will play newcomers Brazil in the opening match of the women’s tournament and will also take on Papua New Guinea and Canada in the group stage, while Australia were paired with New Zealand, France and the Cook Islands.

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