SYDNEY Roosters grand final hero Aiden Guerra admitted after scoring two tries in Italy’s World Cup victory over Wales he had not inhabited the same world as the rest of us for quite some time.
Guerra, a scorer in the Roosters’ 26-18 GF win over Manly just under a month ago, made Millennium Stadium his own with tries in the eighth and 22nd minutes and setting up the match-sealer in the 32-16 victory.
Anthony Minichiello, his captain at club and international level, said the premiership had done wonders for Guerra’s confidence while the 25-year-old’s admitted the World Cup debutantes had set their sights on a quarter-final appointment with New Zealand.
“I don’t think reality is going to set in until I have to show up to Roosters training sometime in December – and hopefully not too early,” said Guerra, who played in the centres against the home nation.
“I don’t think the grand final’s really sunk in yet and I don’t know if the magnitude of a World Cup will really sink in for a while yet either.
“We’re definitely aiming to meet New Zealand in the first quarter-final. If we can get there, that would be a good achievement and if we can go further, that would be even better..”
The sides traded tries in the first half before the NRL experience and class of the Italians kicked in during the second session, with Wests Tigers’ James Tedesco also outstanding.
Guerra’s effort in pirouetting before putting winger Chris Centrone over in the 70th minute sent the locals heading for the exits.
“That was the best thing I’ve been involved in,” said Italy prop Cameron Ciraldo. “When you walked out, with the anthems and that, I was in wonderland.
“It was better than I imagined. It was on another level.”
Wales coach Iestyn Harris conceded the NRL experience in the Italian side, and particularly the flair of the Italian centres, was decisive.
“If we’re at our best, we can trouble anyone; unfortunately we weren’t at our best,” he said.
“We’ve still got a good change to go through. We’ve just got to win our next two games. If we could afford to lose any game, this was it.”
ITALY 32 (Aiden Guerra 2, Josh Mantellato, James Tedesco, Chris Centrone, Mark Minichiello tries; Mantellato 4 goals) bt WALES 16 (Will Evans, Rhodri Lloyd, Elliot Kear tries; Lloyd White 2 goals) at Millennium Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein (Australia). Crowd: 45,052.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD