England are set to go head to head with the United States as the nations vying to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) chief executive David Collier has revealed four initial expressions of interest were last week reduced to a shortlist of two, with the winner to be announced during the 2016 Four Nations Series in November.
Collier declined to reveal the final two but it’s understood the choice will be made between the Rugby Football League, which went public with its bid in June, and an application submitted by a Sydney events management company on behalf of the United States Rugby League.
South Africa were also thought to have shown an interest but without pressing their case sufficiently.
“We received four expressions of interest and two of them asked for confidentiality,” Collier said.
“They were studied by an independent three-man assessment panel and now we move onto the second phase which comes down to discussions with two of the bidders.
“It is fair to assume that England are one of the two.
“We are committed to making an announcement at the congress in November so we will have to draw up the contracts in October and we’re well on track to do that.”
The final decision will be made by the board of the RLIF but Collier confirmed that chairman Nigel Wood, who is also chief executive of the RFL, and fellow board member Brian Barwick, the RFL chairman, will not take part in the process to ensure impartiality.
The discussions will be led by RLIF vice-chairman John Grant, of Australia.