With expressions of interest to host the 2021 World Cup starting to come in, Rugby League International Federation CEO David Collier has confirmed that the number of nations participating in it will rise from 14 to 16.
"The growth of rugby league internationally is reflected in the expansion of the tournament to four pools of four," Collier said.
"The strength of the 2017 World Cup qualifiers to date, across the continents, has shown a significant increase in playing standard and quality and the newly adopted international calendar will ensure that teams will have a minimum of 15 months prior to the 2021 event to stake their claim."
In addition, the 2021 Women's World Cup, which will run at the same time, will be increased to six nations.
Collier added, "The World Cup is the pinnacle and we are already receiving expressions of interest to run the 2021 events in world class facilities, to provide the players and supporters with the highest possible experience.
"Bids are due to be returned to the RLIF by the end of June – and we are anticipating and encouraging more nations to apply - and the hosts will be announced by the end of 2016."
To keep up to date with RLWC2017 please visit www.rlwc2017.com