Australia is no longer top dog.
Australia is no longer top dog.

Kangaroos knocked off in rankings shake-up

The Kangaroos have been knocked off the top of the RLIF rankings for the first time since 2016.

Australia's three-year reign as the top dogs of international rugby league were this week brought to an end when the RLIF announced New Zealand as the new No. 1 ranked team in the world.

The Kangaroos have paid a heavy price for this month's shock defeat to Tonga, sending the star-studded Aussie team down to No. 2 in the official RLIF rankings.

New Zealand has returned to the top for the first time since 2016, when the Kangaroos snapped a two-match losing streak against the Kiwis.

The Kangaroos have won just two of the four test matches they have played in the past two years since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

It's cost them their reputation as the best team on the planet.

The Kangaroos have also paid a price for being less active on the international scene with New Zealand and England playing more games during the same period.

The Kangaroos will in 2020 step up their commitment to the international game with tests scheduled against New Zealand and a three-match series against England.

Rugby league great and Kangaroos selector Laurie Daley said on Tuesday New Zealand's rise sets up an enthralling World Cup in 2021.

"It's disappointing on Australia's behalf, but it just shows where international football is going and where it can get to," Daley told Sky Sports Radio.

"Australia's played four tests in the past two years and they've won two and lost two. They lost to the Kiwis and they lost to Tonga. If they'd won that Tonga game they'd still be No. 1 in the world.

"The Kiwis under (coach) Michael Maguire have improved and it sets it up for a good World Cup in a few years' time."

RLIF RANKINGS 2019

New Zealand +3

Australia -1

England - 1

Tonga =

Fiji =

PNG +4

Samoa =

France -2

Scotland -1

Lebanon -1

 

DRAGONS CONFIRM LUKE SIGNING

 

One last roll of the dice.
One last roll of the dice.

St George Illawarra have confirmed the signing of Issac Luke on a one-year NRL deal.

The Dragons have signed the former New Zealand international, who has amassed 271 NRL matches for South Sydney and the Warriors, for the 2020 season.

"Everyone is already aware of Issac's career in regard to his longevity," director of rugby league pathways and list management Ian Millward said.

"Issac has walked the path of the NRL over a long period of time now and will be great for our squad."

The 32-year-old Luke links up with the Dragons after four years with the Warriors, and will likely serve as dummy-half back-up for Cameron McInnes.

Luke and McInnes previously played together at the Rabbitohs in 2014 and 2015. On Sunday, Luke tweeted that he was bound for the Saints.

"St George Dragons. On way," he wrote.

Luke's arrival at the Dragons will cover the loss of Reece Robson, who is moving to North Queensland.

Luke has played 43 Tests for the Kiwis, including the 2008 World Cup final win over Australia.

- with AAP

News Corp Australia


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