England beating Australia good for World Cup - Meninga

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England beating Australia in the opening match of the Rugby League World Cup on Friday would be "a great start for the tournament", according to Mal Meninga.

The Kangaroos begin the defence of their title against Wayne Bennett's side at AAMI Park, pitting Meninga against the rival he claimed was after his job during the Four Nations last year.

Joint-hosts Australia are the overwhelming favourites to win the title once again, so their coach feels starting their campaign with a loss could prove be good for the competition.

"It would be enormous for [Bennett]," said Meninga. "It would be a great start for the tournament in general.

"England will probably think we are at our most vulnerable tomorrow night and we're prepared for that.

"We're favourites for the tournament and with that comes some added pressure. If we do get beaten, other teams will probably feel we're vulnerable as well."

Meninga then expanded on why England may consider his side vulnerable by saying: "We haven't played together for a while and, always with the first game of the series, you're not quite sure of the combinations.

"You could be a bit clunky. We've got a few blokes who haven't played for a while."

England coach Bennett acknowledged his team will not be in peak condition come the opener either, but believes they can make the final with continual improvement.

"The World Cup's not won on game one of the tournament, so we've just got to get better each week. We won't be at our best on Friday and Australia won't be either," said Bennett.

"We'll all build into it and that's my plan, I want us to play well and do the things I know we have to do in order be there in six weeks."