Despite getting thrashed 30-0 by New Zealand in the Pacific Championships final, Australia have maintained top spot in the end-of-year International Rugby League rankings announcement.
Mal Meninga’s team were humbled by the Kiwis but after winning their two previous matches, the World Cup holders have stayed in front of the Kiwis.
England have leapt back up to third spot a year after their surprising early World Cup exit against Samoa.
They have jumped back ahead of them in the rankings after their series clean sweep at home over Tonga to finish 2023.
Samoa are fourth, with Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, France and Lebanon, who have swapped places, and the Cook Islands completing the top 10.
Among the minnows, the Netherlands have risen six spots to 12th after five straight wins in September and October against Norway, Albania, Serbia, Germany and Czech Republic, while Ukraine are up eight spots to 20th after back-to-back wins over Greece, who competed at last year’s World Cup.
IRL Chair Troy Grant said the rankings reflected the volume of internationals activity in 2023, with 64 sanctioned international matches being an unprecedented number outside a World Cup year.
“In a nine-day period alone we had 23 sanctioned international matches, which was wonderful to see,” Grant said.
“We have the Pacific Championships up and running in the Southern Hemisphere, with Papua New Guinea as winners of the Pacific Bowl and New Zealand as winners of the Pacific Cup.”
The Jillaroos are entrenched at No.1 despite the Kiwi Ferns upsetting them in Octobert at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.
England are third in the women’s rankings, followed by PNG and France.