Countdown to the World Cup

The 2017 Rugby League World Cup is now just around the corner, as Thursday marked one year to go until Australia host England in the opening match of the tournament at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

RLWC CEO Andrew Hill was on hand to make the announcement on Thursday, with tickets to all group games now available for purchase.

Hill was excited to start working towards the opening fixture of the tournament, and he's quite confident the spectacle of the opening match will set the tone for the five weeks that follow.

"The organising committee will work really hard with all the key stakeholders here in Melbourne to make sure it's not just a game, it's an event," Hill said.

"It's a World Cup and I think Melbourne sporting fans have shown that if it's a major sporting event they come out and support it. We are confident they will come out and support the Rugby League World Cup."

Over recent months, speculation surrounding player eligibility has been at the forefront of international rugby league, but Hill confirmed there's a new system in place to allow the game's best players to feature on the biggest stage.

"At the recent Rugby League Federation meeting last month it was determined players could move between tier two countries and tier one countries if they qualify for multiple countries," Hill said.

"What that means is once Australia, New Zealand and England pick their teams then if a player has dual eligibility then he can play with the country of his heritage. Then he can come back and play with Australia or one of the other countries.

"When the board looked at the eligibility that was in place it was very consistent with other sporting bodies but we felt we had to make the best decision for rugby league and at the moment the best decision for international rugby league is to make sure the best players are able to represent their countries.

"This decision was unanimously supported by all the countries and what it will allow is that for our world cup we can guarantee to all the fans over Australian and New Zealand that the best players will be playing in our World Cup."

While there's still a long way to go until the opening match on October 27, 2017, Thursday's one year to go milestone was one that Hill and his team have worked hard to achieve.

"I think the organising committee has been working for close to two years to get to this point and along those two years I'm sure there's been a lot of hard work and it's always been so far down the track, but today is a really important day for the organising committee," Hill said.

"It's also important for Australian Rugby League, New Zealand Rugby League and the Papua New Guinea Rugby League because it starts to bring all of that hard work together, and for us now we're really focused on coming here to Melbourne in 12 months to kick off the World Cup in a positive way."