What we learned: RLWC Week 1

Some big wins and key moments left everyone discussing what was an enthralling opening weekend of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Blowouts dominate opening week

Five of the seven encounters in the opening week of group stages produced major score-lines – none more so than Fiji's massive 58-12 victory over USA.

The overall aggregate of 343 points pipped the opening week of the 2013 tournament by 14 with David Mead's hat-trick – the first in Papua New Guinea's history – just one of the many highlights. 

The Kumuls' big win over Wales was their first World Cup win in more than 17 years, while Lebanon's thrilling victory against France was their first success on the world stage. 

Sizzling temperatures a test

End of season rugby league tournaments sound great and all, but not when you're from the northern hemisphere and used to playing in freezing conditions. 

Watching Wales compete in mid-30 degree heat in Port Moresby almost looked unfair at stages with the Welsh no match for a Papua New Guinea side that looked like they could play on for another 80 minutes if required. 

The test for Wales does not get easier in the humidity department with a trip to Townsville for their clash with Fiji scheduled on Sunday. 

There were no such issues for the Irish however, who caused a major boilover with their win over Italy in Cairns. 

Injuries dampen campaign early

A major injury toll affected an otherwise entertaining first week of the tournament.

Australian lock Jake Trbojevic faces a delayed start to the 2018 NRL season with a pectoral injury, while Kane Evans (broken wrist) and Gerard Beale (broken leg) were the other major casualties from the weekend.  

The sight of Beale collapsing on-field with a double leg break in particular was enough to send shivers down the spine of all who watched on as the former Sharks utility immediately called for help in New Zealand's win over Samoa on Saturday night.  

Beale clashed legs with Samoan winger Peter Mata'utia only minutes before the major incident, and Kiwis coach David Kidwell believed post-game it may have played a part in the final outcome. 

Pre-game moments steal the show

Do they get any better? 

Whether it's the haka from the Kiwis, Fiji's hymn or Australia's new ritual – the pre-game spectacle gets more passionate and spine-tingling every tournament. 

And that's not even mentioning the national anthems.

The lasting image of tears running down the face of Fijian captain Kevin Naiqama on Saturday night should be plastered on billboards for upcoming tournaments.

Emotion – there is nothing like it. 

Tournament wide open

Australia went into the Rugby League World Cup as raging favourites but there were enough signs from opposing teams in the first weekend of footy to suggest this is far from a one-horse race. 

England took advantage of a Kangaroos side lacking continuity, but so too couldn't find the combinations at the finish to break their duck. 

New Zealand proved they're not backing down despite missing key men, while the NRL experience clearly lifted nations like Lebanon and PNG to new heights on the weekend. 

Tonga and Fiji proved they are tournament dark horses with a host of stars in their respective line-ups, while Ireland's win over Italy should they are afforded plenty of respect over the remainder of their tournament. 

One-ref debate lives on

The introduction of international rules has given NRL fans a fresh new look at having just one referee on the paddock, with the assortment of whistle-blowers earning plenty of praise over the weekend.  

The 2018 season will mark a decade since the two-referee system was introduced across the NRL in 2009, with some stakeholders suggesting it is time to revert back to a single referee in the middle.