THE 2017 World Cup is over, and as expected Australia have retained their title.

The tournament Down Under did, however, provoke plenty of talking points and went someway in reviving interest in international rugby league.

The Star’s Mike Critchley takes at look at some of the matters arising from the six-week tournament.

1. The importance of international rugby.

Whether it was the packed houses in Papua New Guinea, the surge of Tonga or the fact that England’s pulsating final against Australia drew in excellent viewing figures, the World Cup gave the sport a real boost.

Just like the football equivalent, the Ashes in cricket, rugby union’s Six Nations or the Olympic Games nothing attracts attention of new supporters, sports neutrals and potential sponsors more than international competition.

On Saturday morning, among the 2 million viewers tuning into the BBC1 coverage would have been Barbara from Basingstoke, Colin from Cornwall and Darren from Derby.

And, given the compelling nature of that game, plenty of those new armchair fans will have had their appetites well and truly whetted.

That is why it is important that the game has already arranged next year’s test series against the Kiwis with their terrestrial television coverage plans in place.

But international rugby league is not just important for attracting new fans, it is vital for the game’s own players and supporters.

For players, it gives an opportunity to be shine on that global stage.

For fans, the national team brings together supporters from Workington, Widnes and Wakefield; united in a common cause.

2. We need the Ashes back.

International rugby league, whether that was the Ashes or the World Cup, have always been part of the sport’s rich fabric.

That the Ashes was left to go by the wayside was criminal, maybe the passions that were aroused Down Under by England’s display may have stirred the Aussies into reviving that.

It was the one thing we had in international rugby that the union code did not have.

It should never have have been dropped, particularly given what replaced it was a Tri- Nations and then Four Nations tournament which was ‘World Cup lite’.

We need to get the Ashes, with the four home nations united under Great Britain, back on a four-yearly cycle.

3. Beating the Aussies.

One of the biggest ways we can force the Australians into coming to an agreement on the Ashes is to beat them.

And on Saturday’s evidence that day cannot be that far off.

England lost a glorious opportunity to do that this week.

Although they tackled like terriers, with the Wall of White keeping the Green and Golds to one try, with the ball they asked too few questions.

That was always likely to be the case with the team Wayne Bennett selected.

England needed more creativity from the halves and they needed more strike out on the left.

Sure, England does not currently have the half back production line it had in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and that needs to be resolved.

But the attacking structure England reverted to for large parts of the tournament probably did not worry the Australians.

Centres wise, there was no real excuse for playing a second row man in John Bateman, rather than a tradesman centre with footwork to genuinely ask questions of the defence.

Mark Percival needed to play, simple as.

And if he had faults in his game then maybe Michael Shenton should have also been on the plane over.

England has never succeeded in beating the Aussies at their own game. The key to beating them is that little bit of something different to defend against.

There is a lot of back-patting given that England were only an ankle-tap away from causing a shock, but we have to move on.

Take that defensive steel and togetherness that has been instilled into the Wall of White, but then infuse a bit of old school attacking flair. If Cas coach Daryl Powell fancied a job switch or even a post share, I am sure he would be universally welcomed across the board.

4.Media coverage.

There was a lot of criticism of sections of the print and broadcast media over their coverage of the World Cup.

Even Mayor of Manchester region Andy Burnham got involved in giving the press and telly a prod.

Some of it was justified, particularly with some glaring omissions from some broadcasters who should know better.

But one thing that would help rugby league press for better coverage is spreading the game beyond the M62 corridor. The British game being confined to such a thin geographical band makes it easy for sports editors to ignore it.

Hopefully the viewing figures from the final give the PR department ammunition to lobby harder.

5. Developing nations.

The way Tonga and Fiji performed was a real tonic for the international game.

They have been helped by local spats with New Zealand, but the Kiwis loss was definitely the islanders gain....and the tournament was better for it.

We need to help Wales - a country with a genuine rugby league past, get a leg back into the international game.

They had a tough tournament given the number of high-profile withdrawals. But Saints' loose forward Morgan Knowles emerged with his reputation enhanced.

Bolstering Wales may have to go beyond patient grassroots work.

We would find Wales a far more productive seam than some other areas with more work and investment.

Of course the days of pulling out fully fledged internationals like Jonathan Davies, Scott Gibbs, David Watkins and John Mantle have gone, but interest in league is still strong.

It is a shame that the Crusaders failed at Super League level as essentially what Wales needs is a pro club that can spend money on talented Welsh union players who lack the physical attributes to be top drawer players in the 15-man code but who would excell in our game.

In a way League needs to go back to being a bit of a predator in Wales to lure away some international talent to go with the grass roots products.

6. The Women's game.

This year the Women's World Cup Final preceded the men's showpiece at the Suncorp, Brisbane.

The women's game is making advances - and we can see that back home with the push among English Super League clubs.

Saints have a positive partnership with Thatto Heath going forward.

These are good first steps in following cricket, football and rugby union in pushing into what have always traditionally been considered male sports.

However, a lot of work will be needed at grassroots to ensure there are players coming through to make the new women's Super League a success.