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The Kiwis perform the Haka.

New Zealand have usurped Australia as the top nation in the International Rugby League world rankings after the conclusion of the 2019 season.

The Kiwis have built on their 2018 wins over Australia and England and their recent 2-0 series defeat of Great Britain and victory in the mid-season Oceania Cup Test against Tonga to take the top position from the Kangaroos despite losing to them in Wollongong last month.

Since winning the 2017 World Cup final, Australia have only played four Tests - winning two and losing two.

Tonga remain in fourth spot but their historic triumph against the second-placed Kangaroos earlier this month has closed the gap on England, who now sit in third place.

New Zealand's claim on the No.1 spot caps a big 24 hours for the Kiwis, with superstar fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck awarded the 2019 Golden Boot as international player of the year.

"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," Kiwis coach Michael Maguire said.

"The International Rugby League Oceania Cup is a fantastic development for the Kiwis and the nations in this region. It provides a meaningful competition and is a real focus for our international program."

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Papua New Guinea are one of the big movers in both the men’s and women’s rankings.

The Kumuls have been recognised for their progress in the past 12 months, which culminated in last weekend's 28-10 defeat of Great Britain, as they move from 10th to sixth place.

The Orchids, who won their first Test against England in Port Moresby last Saturday, climb from sixth position to fourth.

Kumuls coach Michael Marum sees the rise up the rankings as a natural part of their journey, saying: "The PNG Kumuls going from 10th spot to 6th spot is really good for us. We can only go higher with more international fixtures."

Orchids coach Bagelo Solien said: "Going up two spots from sixth to fourth is pleasing after two Test matches and we can only get better from here. It is good for the women’s game nationally and internationally."

The Jillaroos remain in No.1, ahead of the Kiwi Ferns and England, with five new nations included in the women's rankings for the first time.

Other big movers are Greece and the Cook Islands, who have both climbed five places to be 11th and 23rd respectively on the back of qualifying for the 2021 World Cup.

IRL chief executive officer Nigel Wood congratulated the countries on the rise.

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"Firstly, I would like to congratulate New Zealand on achieving their number one position. It is fully deserved based upon their recent excellent performances with four wins from their last five international games," he said.

"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.”

RLIF World Rankings November 2019

Men                                                                                                 

1. New Zealand +3
2. Australia -1
3. England - 1
4. Tonga =
5. Fiji =
6. PNG +4
7. Samoa =
8. France -2
9. Scotland -1
10. Lebanon -1
11. Greece +5
12. Ireland =
13. Italy +1
14. Wales -3
15. Serbia +4
16. Malta +1
17. Norway +1
18. USA -3
19. Poland +4
20. Jamaica -7
21. Hungary -1
22. Czech Republic -3
23. Cook Islands +5
24. Turkey +7
25. Netherlands -1
26. Spain +4
27. Canada -6
28. Nigeria (new)
29. Solomon Islands -2
30. Sweden +10
31. Germany +4
32. Chile +1
33. Ghana (new)
34. Morocco +16
35. Vanuatu -3
36. South Africa =
37. Russia - 8
38. Cameroon (new)
39. Ukraine -2
40. Colombia +1
41. Brazil +4
42. Belgium =
43. Denmark +4
44. Bulgaria +4
45. Latvia +4
 

Women

1. Australia =
2. New Zealand =
3. England =
4. Papua New Guinea +2
5. Canada -1
6. France -1
7. Cook Islands -2
8. Italy =
9. Serbia (new)
10. Fiji (new)
11. Turkey (new)
12. Samoa (new)
13. Brazil (new)
14. Lebanon -6