SYDNEY // The England coach Tony Smith believes other sports will copy the controversial format of the forthcoming World Cup. The tournament organisers have attracted criticism for placing the big guns England, Australia and New Zealand in Pool One along with Papua New Guinea. The idea was conceived to prevent mismatches with the top three sides from the group going through to the semi-finals along with the winners of a play-off between the leading sides of the two other pools.
Smith said: "Yes, it does look unbalanced but it's the only sensible format if we want to avoid the mismatches we often see in other sports' world cups. "Those type of games do nobody any good - the teams or the viewing public - and rugby league is being sensible in avoiding that. "I know the format is unusual but rugby league has always been innovative and I think other sports will copy this idea.
"But is rugby league a global sport if there are only three teams in with a realistic chance of winning the tournament? "To some degree that criticism is correct. "But that is changing as more countries develop and the format of this World Cup can only help them," he added. * PA Sport