Oval-Shaped Crystal Ball: Likely 2013 World Cup Teams

RLWC panorama

By STEVE MASCORDUNTIL last weekend, it seemed an abstract concept – a World Cup at the end of the year in England, Wales, Ireland and France.

Then came the Anzac Test in front of a sellout 25,628 crowd, with the Kiwis matching it with the Aussies for half a game before falling away.

But the real pipe-opener for the 14th World Cup, kicking off on October 26 and concluding on November 30, came at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday night when Tonga and Samoa did battle in front of 10,143.

“I thought the best game of the weekend was Tonga-Samoa,” said Newcastle and Country forward Willie Mason.

Mason himself, under RLIF rules, can play for New South Wales in this year’s Origin series and then switch to Tonga, with whom he played in the 2000 World Cup.

Any Origin players who have not already changed their country of election once since 2008 – as Akuila Uate has – can do likewise.

Potentially, there’ll be a flood of State of Origin players declaring their availability for other countries after Origin – while poor old Uate and Feleti Mateo will have to watch with the rest of us if they miss out on Australia.

Who can forget Kevin Campion and Luke Ricketson teaming up for Ireland in 2000, or now-video referee Justin Morgan playing against the green-and-golds in the World Cup semi-finals?

Just to whet the appetite a little more, we’ve gazed into the (at times very cloudy) crystal ball and attempted to come up with starting sides for each of the 14 nations taking part in our big carnival.

It wasn’t easy. Some countries, like Fiji, haven’t fielded a full-strength side since the last World Cup five years ago. Will Cowboy Clint Greenshields continue to play for France, where he spent six years playing for Super League club Catalan before returning to Australia this year? Is Tariq Sims tempted to join brother Ashton with the Bati? Is there a chance Steve Matai will have a change of heart and stick with New Zealand rather than joining Samoa?

A look at England’s line-up should set right those who see Steve McNamara’s men as pushovers, with the likes of Chris Heighington, Gareth Hock, Lee Mossop, Adrian Morley and George Burgess competing for bench spots.

Likewise, it would not surprise to see Gareth Widdop – a multi-million dollar recruit for St George Illawarra – miss out on a starting spot to captain Kevin Sinfield. But the Golden Boot winner is equally at home at no.13 and could play there to accommodate Widdop.

Either way, the hosts have plenty of options. We’ll know more when England take on The Exiles next month.

Because the World Cup ends a cycle, for eligibility purposes and only two teams involved had to play qualifiers, most NRL and Super League players can leave it until the 11th hour to choose their country.

We have grabbed the incumbent teams, cast around for those who were injured or unavailable at the time, and thrown in some long shots.

The lists should get you thinking about the relative strengths of the various teams. Outside the top three, Tonga look formidable.

Please note this is only a very early guide intended to throw up some debate. We do not claim to have the inside information over team. Thanks to Joanna Lester for her help.

AUSTRALIA

Coach Tim Sheens says the men who played in Canberra have “one foot on the plane”

Billy SLATER

Darius BOYD

Greg INGLIS

Justin HODGES

Brett MORRIS

Johnathan THURSTON

Cooper CRONK

Paul GALLEN

Sam THAIDAY

Greg BIRD

James TAMOU

Cameron SMITH (c)

Matt SCOTT

Coach: Tim SHEENS

COOK ISLANDS

THE Cooks played a thriller in Sydney last October against Lebanon and are quietly putting together a strong team for Europe

Drury LOW

Geoff DANIELA

Lulia LULIA

Anthony GELLING

Chris TARIPO

Aaron NOOTAI

Isaac JOHN

Tinarau ARONA

Zeb TAIA

Dominique PEYROUX

Neccromm AREATI

Sam BRUNTON

Tyrone VIGA

Coach: DAVID FAIRLEIGH

ENGLAND

THERE’RE plenty of competitions for spots in the line-up for England, officially one of two host nations (alongside Wales)

Sam TOMKINS

Ryan HALL

Kallum WATKINS

Jack REED

Josh CHARNLEY

Gareth WIDDOP

Rangi CHASE

Kevin SINFIELD (c)

Sean O’LOUGHLIN

Gareth HOCK

Sam BURGESS

James ROBY

James GRAHAM

FIJI

NEWCASTLE assistant coach Rick Stone takes charge of a strong-looking Bati side. Will Tariq Sims switch after Origin?

 

Lote Tuqiri

Sisa Waqa

Wes NAIQAMA

Daryl MILLARD

Marika KOROIBETE

Henry Raiwalui

Ryan Millard

Tariq SIMS

Ashton SIMS

Peni BOTIKI

Saravu FATIAKI

Aaron GROOM

Petero CIVONICEVA (c)

FRANCE

NEW coach Richard Agar can be expected to stamp his mark on the team that was heavily beaten in last year’s Autumn internationals.

Clint GREENSHIELDS

Teddie SADOUI

Vincent DUPORT

Kevin LARROYA

Cyril STACUL

Thomas BOSC

William BARTHAU

Gregory MOUNIS

Jason BATIERI

Sebastien RAGUIN

Remy CASTY

Kane BENTLEY

Olivier ELIMA (c)

Coach: Richard AGAR

IRELAND

THE great Pat Richards will be a star for Ireland, who host Australia in Limerick.

Greg McNALLY

Pat RICHARDS

Stuart LITTLER

Joshua O’TOOLE

Damien BLANCH

Scott GRIX

Liam FINN

Tyrone McCARTHY

Callum CASEY

Elliot COSGROVE

Luke AMBLER

Carl SICE

Kyle AMOR

Coach: Mark ASTON

ITALY

THE Azurri look hot favourites to beat Wales at Millennium Stadium first-up but know they’re in for a tough group game against Tonga

Anthony MINICHIELLO (c)

James TEDESCO

Shaun BERRIGAN

Vic MAURO

Josh MANTELLATO

Terry CAMPESE

Craig GOWER

Joel REITHMULLER

Mark MINICHIELLO

Cameron CIRALDO

Anthony LAFFRANCHI

Matthew PERATA

Paul VAUGHN

NEW ZEALAND

Coach Stephen Kearney still has some pretty handy players to come back into his side, including Benji Marshall, Sonny Bill Williams and Simon Mannering

Josh HOFFMAN

Sam PERRETT

Shaun KENNY-DOWALL

Krisnan INU

Jason NIGHTINGALE

Kieran FORAN

Benji MARSHALL

Simon MANNERING (c)

Sonny Bill WILLIAMS

Sam KASIANO

Issac LUKE

Jesse BROMWICH

Coach: Stephen KEARNEY

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

GOLD Coast speedster David Mead has decided to throw his lot in with the Kumuls again after a change of management

David MEAD

Matthew PUKE

Richard KAMBO

Jason TALI

Albert PATAK

Paul AITON (c)

Israel ELIAB

Charlie WABO

Neville COSTIGAN

David LOKO

Rodney PORA

James SEGEYARO

Jason CHAN

Coach: Adrian LAM

SAMOA

COACH Steve Price said he found out about “some individuals’ in the big loss two Saturdays ago. Expect changes

Daniel VIDOT

Francis MELI

Steve MATAI

Junior SAU

Kalifa FAIFAI LOA

Carlos TUITMAVAVE

Anthony MILFORD

Eddy PETTYBOURNE

Sam TAGATAESE

Tony PULETUA

Roy ASOTASI

Masada IOSEFA

Jeff LIMA

Coach:  Steve PRICE

SCOTLAND

JAMES McManus and Michael Robertston are expected to be on board again.

Brett CARTER

Michael ROBERTSON

James McMANUS

Martin GLEESON

Michael ROBERTSON

Lee PATERSON

Peter WALLACE

Adam WALKER

Dale FERGUSON

Johnathan WALKER

Chris ARMIT

Andrew HENDERSON

Keith GALLOWAY

Coach: Steve McCORMACK

TONGA

As if they weren’t already strong enough, the Mate Ma’a will be joined by players from State of Origin and Super League

Glen FISIIAHI

Mahe FONUA

Michael JENNINGS

Suitonga LIKILIKI

Etu UAISELE

Samsoni LANGI

Daniel FOSTER

Jason TAUMALOLO

Tony WILLIAMS

Willie MASON

Andrew FIFITA

Nafe SELUINI

Brent KITE (c)

Coach: Charlie TONGA

UNITED STATES

CLINT Newton, Junior Paulo and even Matt Petersen are in like for the Tomahawks’ World Cup debut

UNITED STATES

Kenny BRITT

Nate SMITH

Matt THORNTON

Curtis CUNZ

Mike BRAZILL

Matt PETERSEN

Brent SHORTEN

Kelly McGILL

Junior PAULO

Clint NEWTON

Matt CLARK

Apple POPE (c)

Conroy MARAKI

Coach: MATT ELLIOTT

WALES

DANIEL Mortimer has already been sounded out and more NRL and Super League players can be expected to join the Dragons before kick-off.

Craig MOSS

Elliott KEAR

Mike CHANNING

Christiaan ROETS

David JAMES

Daniel MORTIMER

Ollie OLDS

Tyson FRIZELL

Ben FLOWER

Ben EVANS

Craig KOPCZAK

Neil BUDWORTH

Jordan JAMES (c)

Coach: IESTYN HARRIS

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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