“Based on this last series, you’d probably rank them number one,” he said. “It shows how they have developed with homegrown players and the additional heritage players.
“I think the whole southern hemisphere has developed within rugby league. Perhaps it’s a little wake-up call for us in the northern hemisphere to develop Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France.
“If you look at Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, they are powerhouses of the game now. We need to do something within the northern hemisphere to come to that standard.
“We know a lot about Tonga but I’m delighted with the draw. PNG are notorious for not being good travellers. It’s completely different to going over there and playing them in their own backyard.
“The Cook Islands are a bit more of an unknown quantity but, should we get all the players who qualify for Wales, I’m pretty confident we can qualify for the top two, which would obviously take us into the quarter-finals.”
Scotland coach Nathan Graham was delighted to land a tie against Australia.
“If I could, I would have picked Australia, just for the chance to challenge myself,” he said. “Everybody buzzing that we’ve drawn Australia.
“People have talked about banana skin teams and, if we can turn ourselves into that banana skin team in that group, maybe knock Fiji off or challenge Australia and get some confidence, who knows what could happen?”