With less than two years to go until the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, qualifying for the tournament is already well underway to determine the 14 nations who will bid to be crowned world champions.

As hosts, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea qualify automatically, as do the quarter-finalists from the 2013 tournament- England, Scotland, France, Samoa and Fiji.

The USA should be included in that list but an internal governance dispute resulted in the Tomahawks being denied automatic qualification by the RLIF and instead will have to beat off competition from Canada and Jamaica in order to progress to the finals.

The round-robin series will take place in Florida in December, with head coach Brian McDermott hoping to ensure the USA qualify for only their second World Cup.

Tonga and Lebanon both sealed qualification for the tournament last month after winning their qualifiers.

Lebanon beat South Africa comfortably across two legs to win the Middle East-Africa play-off and qualify for their first World Cup since 2000.

In the Asia-Pacific play-off Tonga breezed past the Cook Islands with a 28-8 win to secure qualification.

The remaining three places in the tournament will come from European sides with two round-robin groups to be played out in October 2016.

Wales will be favourites to top Group A and book their place down under but face competition from Italy and Serbia.

Ireland, Russia and Spain will compete in Group B, with the runners-up in both groups facing each other in a play-off to determine the final spot of the tournament.

 

Qualified: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, England, Scotland, France, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Lebanon.

Possible qualifiers: USA, Canada, Jamaica, Wales, Serbia, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Spain.

 

The 15th rugby league World Cup will take place in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in October/November 2017.