Australia start defence with convincing win

The Kangaroos have ended their three-year hiatus with a solid if unspectacular win over Fiji to kick off their Rugby League World Cup campaign.

In front of 13,366 fans at Headingley Stadium in Leeds, the defending champions finished up 42-8 winners but the scoreline didn't reflect how rusty they were for the opening 20 minutes on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).

Eventually they clicked into gear as the game wore on, with Josh Addo-Carr scoring a double as he rekindled his partnership with Latrell Mitchell on the Kangaroos' left edge.

"We were a bit clunky with the football but I was really happy with our defence," said coach Mal Meninga.

"It means our attitude was good. We can get better with the football

"I think with seven debutants that was a good first hitout with a week's preparation."

Daly Cherry-Evans, who is battling with Nathan Cleary for the halfback role, was dependable if not extraordinary as his halves partner Cameron Munster was named man of the match.

One concern for Meninga as his side head to Coventry to face Scotland next week will be a concussion for debutant Reuben Cotter.

The North Queensland forward banged heads with Fijian prop Tui Kamikamica in the second half and didn't return after failing his HIA.

Meninga is expected to rotate the rest of his squad but Cotter will be forced to sit out for the next 11 days in line with the World Cup's concussion protocols.

Second-rower Jeremiah Nanai could face suspension for a spear tackle on Fiji halfback Brandon Wakeham late in the game.

Canterbury playmaker Wakeham was part of a rag-tag side Fijian side who threw everything at Australia and got their reward when Canberra centre Semi Valemei opened the scoring after just three minutes.

Wakeham failed to make the conversion but the Bati were winning the ruck and Australia were made to fight for every inch.

When they did get up the other end Australia lacked patience and had to work for Nanai to crack the Fiji line with a quarter of an hour gone.

It took the daring of Mitchell to spark Australia out of their slumber when he passed to Addo-Carr in space on first tackle and the winger sprinted 90 metres downfield for his first try of the tournament.

Angus Crichton followed him over the line as the half drew to a close with Valentine Holmes' faultless kicking giving Australia an 18-4 lead at the break.

Mitchell went over soon after half-time and from there the procession began for the Kangaroos.

Hooker Harry Grant, whose cunning and scheming around the ruck troubled Fiji, scored a simple try after registering a 40/20, with captain James Tedesco joining him on the scoresheet.

Fiji fullback Sunia Turuva nabbed a try back at the death to the delight of the locals.

"We started really well but just gave up too much possession," said Fiji coach Wise Kativerata.

"We still hung in there. We need to work on keeping it simple and then we will push every nation.

"It was our basics that let us down today."