AT the weekend we saw plenty of evidence that we’re going to see some pretty compelling rugby league at the World Cup.
And New Zealand’s first half against Australia was pretty impressive too, when you factor in three disallowed tries and a 6-6 scoreline before the green-and-golds shortened up their passing game and ran riot.
How will England fair against these teams, as a successful tournament usually means a relatively successful home nation?
Steve McNamara’s men simply have to beat the Exiles at Warrington on June 14 for us to have any confidence in them. The star-power of import in Super League has declined with the increase in the NRL salary cap over the past two years – and the age of the big names who are in England has obviously ticked over in the other direction.
Here’s the Exiles squad: Louis Anderson, Daryl Millard, Zeb Taia (all Catalan Dragons), Chris Bailey, Antonio Kaufusi (both London Broncos), Michael Dobson, Mickey Paea, Cory Paterson (all Hull KR), David Faiumu (Huddersfield), Blake Green, Pat Richards (both Wigan), Rhys Hanbury (Widnes), Brett Hodgson (capt), Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Trent Waterhouse (all Warrington), Lance Hohaia, Willie Manu, Tony Puletua, Iosia Soliola (all St Helens), Kylie Leuluai, Joel Moon (both Leeds), Heath L’Estrange, Manase Manuokafoa, Jarrod Sammut (all Bradford), Mark O’Meley (Hull), Justin Poore (Wakefield).
In the meantime, check out my video interview with US forward Curtis Cunz, conducted on the 42nd floor of a Manhattan skyscraper, above.
SPEAKING of Tonga-Samoa, I feel like a bit of a goose today as it seems like I help perpetuate a Chinese whisper after the game – that half the security was sent home hours before kick-off.
The story was doing the rounds and evem the event organiser, Frank Puletua, heard and believed it. But it was sloppy on my part not to have dug a bit deeper.
Stories like this start somewhere. So if you know about exactly what happened regarding security arrangements on Saturday, comment below.
If you can’t get the story right, the next best thing is a factually accurate correction!
YOU’RE probably expecting some analysis in this column about all the changes at League Central.
It’s typical of the mentality we apply to sport – we speculate on the make-up of the team and what impact it’s going to have out on the field.
But in the media, or the public, how much do we really know about how administrators are performing? As a fan, you might write to the NRL to complain about something. If you get a letter back, you might think someone is doing a good job and if you don’t, you believe they aren’t.
Similarly, in the media we deal with the NRL’s media department and – until this year (!) this CEO. If they help us, we tell people they’re doing a good job and if they don’t we go the other way.
Along the way, we might not like the season launch or the halftime entertainment so we have a go at the marketing man.
The referees’ boss? It’s mandatory to have an opinion on him!
But really, how well placed are we to judge the performance of the various departments of the NRL? How the hell would most of us know if Shane Mattiske or Nathan McGuirk were any good?
And if we’re not really that well placed to judge the old guard, why are we so strident in our opinions of the new blokes? Because David Smith has done something on a sweeping scale?
In the end, as it is with new signings at NRL clubs, results will be the only things that matter. How is the game going to stack up against its competitors for ratings, crowds, memberships, visibility and profile plus income?
Hire whoever you want – those are the things that matter.
THE weekly Set Of Six feature (I call it The Joy Of Six on stevemascord.com) gives me a whole new raft of comments to respond to.