NZ pip Aussies, top league world rankings

New Zealand have edged out Australia to top the latest rugby league world rankings.
New Zealand have edged out Australia to top the latest rugby league world rankings.

New Zealand have knocked Australia off the top of rugby league's world rankings after their 2-0 series triumph over Great Britain.

England, who did not play in 2019 with the return of the Lions, dropped from second to third place in the end-of-year rankings announced by the International Rugby League (IRF).

The Kiwis lost three times to England in 2018 but won three of their four matches in 2019.

"This is a great honour and it is good to be recognised but we know that the Kangaroos hold the silverware and that is our ultimate ambition," New Zealand coach Michael Maguire said.

Tonga stay fourth but have narrowed the gap on England after beating Great Britain and Australia, while Papua New Guinea have climbed four places to sixth via Saturday's win over the Lions in Port Moresby .

"I would like to congratulate New Zealand on achieving their No.1 position," IRF CEO Nigel Wood said.

"It is fully deserved based upon their recent excellent performances with four wins from their last five international games.

"Tonga has possibly been the story of the recent internationals and they deserve all the plaudits that they have received.

"They have certainly cemented their place as a genuine top-four nation and, along with other Pacific nations, throws the competition wide open for Rugby League World Cup 2021."

LATEST RANKINGS:

* 1 New Zealand

* 2 Australia

* 3 England

* 4 Tonga

* 5 Fiji

* 6 Papua New Guinea

* 7 Samoa

* 8 France

* 9 Scotland

* 10 Lebanon

* Others: 12 Ireland, 14 Wales.

Australian Associated Press