World Cup second quarter-final: AUSTRALIA 62 UNITED STATES 0 at Racecourse Ground, Wrexham

By STEVE MASCORD
IF injury realistically presented a bigger hurdle at this World Cup than many of Australia’s opponents, then it is becoming an increasingly vengeful foe.
Two weeks after back rower Luke Lewis’ tournament ended in a collision with an advertising hoarding, fullback Billy Slater’s recent off-field misfortune following him onto the Racecourse Ground for the 62-0 quarter-final whipping of the United States.
Slater, who was detained without charge by Manchester Police after a dispute outside a nightclub last week, finds himself in the hands of another branch of the emergency services after suffering an injury relating to the absence of posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee a minute into the second half.
“It’s an old injury – he’s got no PCL so he can’t hurt it,” said the Australia coach, Tim Sheens.
“But damage may have been done to the cartilage and other things. He’s gone for scans.
“We haven’t given up hope that he may be possibly available – if not this week after that sort of knock, then the next week if we get get that far.”
It’s a measure of Australia’s depth, however, that the man who replaced Slater in the custodian role yesterday – Greg Inglis – was considered by opposition coach Terry Matterson a more dangerous prospect there than in the centres.
Slater may have been the offical player of the 2008 World Cup but the prospect of facing Inglis wearing the number one will not exacly fill Australia’s opponents with glee.
By almost any measure, Sheens’ side was ruthless in Wrexham. It ran in 12 tries, with centre Jarryd Hayne and winger Brett Morris each equalling the Australian record for a full international with four.
Hayne’s selection in the centres is something of a leap of faith for Sheens, and it paid off spectacularly. One of the three men he kept out – Michael Jennings, Josh Morris and Brent Tate – will now be called up as a replacement for Slater in a reshuffled backline.
If ever there was a team in less need of luck, it was Australia playing the United States in rugby league.
Nonetheless, the green and golds’ kick-off to start the mismatch rebounded off the wordwork and into the arms of loose forward Paul Gallen.
The Tomahawks initially held them out, but it was only two minutes before Hayne scored his side’s opening try.
There were positive moments for the American initially. By the time 19 minutes had elapsed, the score was only 10-0 and stand-off Joseph Paulo has been unfortunate not to have scored after charging down a clearing kick.
But Morris equalled his country’s try-scoring record in a full international by halftime. His hat-trick was registered in just 14 minutes.
The World Cup favourites showed no favouritism when it came to their route to the tryline. There were sweeping backline movements, pin-point kicks and soft walk-ins.
They didn’t try to find the easy way to points but nor did they display the previous week’s stubborn insistance on talking the hard road.
Parramatta’s Hayne could scarcely have done more to justify Sheens’ vote of confidence, with the extra work required of a centre preventing him from zoning out of a contest, as he can sometimes do.
Hayne started and ended the scoring spree; the score could have been uglier had Johnathan Thurston kicked more than seven from 12.
Sheens took particular pride in his men having kept their tryline intact.
“I think we’ve the best defensive record in the competitiom at the moment,” he said.
“We had our pants pulled down early by England and we were determined that won’t happen again so we’ve worked hard on that aspect.”
Matterson said he was relieved the game was over and proud of his previously unheralded charges despite the margin.
“We won’t dwell too much on what happened today,” he said. “It’s an experience. What we’ve done over the past four weeks has been special.
“It’s a group of people I wil always remember and we’ll always have a very strong bond.”
Tomahawks captain Joseph Paulo said the tournament had given him the confidence to speak more on the field and become a more dominant player with his club, Parramatta.

AUSTRALIA 62 (Jarryd Hayne 4, Brett Morris 4, Greg Inglis 2, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk tries; Johnathan Thurston 7 goals) beat UNITED STATES 0 at Racecourse Ground, Wrexham. Referee: Henry Perenara (New Zealand). Crowd: 9762

Filed for THE OBSERVER

World Cup: SCOTLAND 22 UNITED STATES 8 at Salford City Stadium


By STEVE MASCORD
CAPTAIN Joseph Paulo says the United States just scoring against Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals next Saturday might be as good as victory in another game.
The Tomahawks completed the pool stage of the tournament with their first defeat, 22-8 to a Scotland side inspired by a man injured in the warm-up and aided by a 12-0 second half penalty count in their favour.
That led Paulo to say French referee Theirry Alibert – controlling his final match in the UK after several years in Super League – may have been trying to “get back” at the Americans for beating France.
But it is the November 16 quarter-final against Tim Sheens’ Australians that is now the focus of the plucky Tomahawks, who were no expected to win a game here.
“We’re going in there expecting to win,” said Parramatta’s Paulo of Saturday’s appointment with the green and golds.
“If that means scoring a try or getting points on the board, then that feels like we’ve won against them.”
Coach Terry Matterson added: “I don’t think we’re going to sit down and go through their (Australia’s) last three games. I don’t think we’re going to bother with that.
“I’ve got a fair idea of what Cameron Smith can do. Greg Inglis? I think I’d rather him play centre than fullback.
“But our guys, they’re not going to be star struck. They’re going to go out there and give a good account of themselves.”
Thursday’s result ended Tonga’s tournament and left Scotland needing Tonga to beat Italy at the New Shay in Halifax on Sunday to stay alive.
The 15-5 penalty count, including 12-0 after halftime, infuriated the Americans with Paulo saying: “The ref was going to get his way. I don’t know if it’s because he reffed us in France, he tried to get back at us.
“When I approached the ref, we couldn’t take to him and we tried to take it out on Scotland and that just made it worse for us.”
Scotland had to overcome setbacks of there own. There were serious doubts over the first American try but more significantly hooker Ben Fisher suffered a torn calf in the warm-up for what was shaping as the last game of his career.
He was carried from the field and the team reshuffled to replace him. Australian Fisher, 32, told BBC: “It’s absolutely devastating to finish on that note.
“Words can’t describe how hard it is. It’s a pretty tough realisation. That’s life.”
Prop Luke Douglas, a tryscorer on Thursday, said: “Ben was standing opposite us during the anthem and he was sheding a tear. It was pretty emotional.”
Fisher raised both crutches in the air on the sideline when man of the match Matty Russell scored in the 52nd minute to put the Bravehearts ahead for the first time.
The US defence on the way to an 8-0 halftime lead was nothing short of heroic as Scotland got over the line five times without scoring.
But the penalty count – and having played three games in nine days – took its toll on Terry Matterson’s side in the second half. Former Gold Coast import Russell, current Titan Douglas and winger Alex Hurst and second rower Brett Phillips were the tryscorers
It wasn’t a good night for hookers; America’s Joel Luani was booked for a spear tackle late in the contest.
SCOTLAND 22 (Brett Phillips, Matthew Russell, Luke Douglas, Alex Hurst tries; Danny Brough 3 goals) beat UNITED STATES 8 ( Kristian Freed, Taylor Welch tries) at Salford City Stadium. Referee: Thierry Alibert (France). Crowd: 6041.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup: UNITED STATES 24 WALES 16 at Racecourse Ground, Wrexham


AFTER securing a quarter-final tie against Australia, United States officials revealed that World Cup organisers had booked them on flights home before the pool stage of the tournament is even completed.
The Tomahawks further enhanced their reputations a the biggest stories of the Cup by downing woeful Wales 24-16 at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground on Sunday; it was 24-4 with 10 minutes to go.
In doing so, the Americans assured themselves of a November 16 appointment with Tim Sheens’ green amd golds at the same venue, which had been locked in in the expectation of Wales progressing.
“Under tournament rules, you are supposed to fly out two days after you are eliminated,” Tomahawks team manager Steve Johnson told Fairfax Media.
amazon“Well, we were booked to leave on November 9 – two days before the last pool game when we could always have still been alive.
“It shows how little was expected of us. We ain’t going nowhere now.”
They may be part timers to no-timers – possible Wests Tigers recruit Les Solaia has merely trained once with a rugby union team in Portland, Oregon, this year – but it didn’t take long for the Tomahawks to adopt a decidedly NRL approach to their first game against Australia since the now-legendary 2004 clash in Philadelphia.
Players were instructed to talk only about this week’s final pook match against Scotland,
But former Parramatta and Gold Coast winger Matt Petersen, a tryscorer on Sunday, says each game so far on the campaign has beaten every previous match in a 216-game NRL career and with the quarter’ Australia, his likely final game will now be his most memorable.
“It was definitely one if the highlights of my career (in 2004),” said Petersen, the only survivor from the game a decade ago which rhe US led 24-6 at halftime before losing 36-24
“We’ve got to play Scotland first but it’s a highlight (to do it again). When we played France and we won, to be honest that’s been the highlight of my career, of 10 years of NRL.
“Then we beat Cook Islands. The we came up here and beat Wales. There were 50 people in the crowd with (US) flags and 8000 Welsh people – definitely the highlight of my career.
donate2“To be still involved after 10 years is massive. When I came away, I had four weeks left in me and I knew it.”
The Welsh did manage to score first, through centre  Christian Roets, and his brace comprised probably the tries of the match.
But Iestyn Harris’ side was mostly pedestrian in attack.
Tomahawks captain Clint Newton crashed over to tie the scores in the 22nd minute. The try of Petersen, who played bush football to keep himself fit for the tounament, seven minutes before the break gave the Americans a halftime lead.
When man of the match Joseph Paulo waltzed through retreating defence 14 minutes into the second half, the writing was on the wall.
Paulo finally managed a conversion when Tui Samoa barged over from dummy half just short of the hour and Penrith’s Newton tossed the ball in the air after posting his second soon afterwards.
RLWC officials began contemplating the size of next Sunday’s crowd in Neath for Wales’ final pool game at this point, while restless members of the crowd began contemplating the jeering of their own team.
This, at least, was averted by late scores by Roets and Anthony Walker, which were greeted enthusastically.
Harris earned himself a rebuke from the Tomahawks when he said afterwards: “Come World Cuo time, they come from all over the world. There’s one USA man in the whole squad”.
The AMNRL posted online: “Just to correct uninformed comments by Wales coach Iestyn Harris about the USA team. We had ten USA nationals and residents on field today” and Petersen commented on Facebook: “You can’t help sore losers”
Harris – whose comment would have been more or less accurate if he was referencing players with American accents – continued: “When we sit down to look at that game, we’ll see 25, 30 opportunities to score points. That’s very frustating.
“It’s a bad result, yeah.”
Harris seemed keen on keep the players on the straight and narrow for the remainder of the tournament wit nothing to play for.
“What you’ve got to show over the next seven days is your professionalism,” he said. “When players look back on this World Cup campaign … they’ll see how they conducted themselves over the seven days.”
UNITED STATES 24 (Clint Newton 2, Matt Petersen, Joseph Paulo, Tui Samoa tries; Paulo 2 goals) beat WALES 16 (Christian Roets 2, Antony Walker tries; Lloyd White 2 goals) at Racecourse Ground, Wrexham. Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia). Crowd: 8019.

Filed for SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

THE JOY OF SIX: International Season Week One 2014

The Joy Of SixSANDOW SIN BIN

WHEN we went to Parramatta with claims Chris Sandow had played in an aboriginal knockout and been sent off for a shoulder charge followed by an elbow, Eels CEO Scott Seward told us: “He had permission to play. He passed a medical and the coach gave him his blessing. Chrissy has told us he was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on a childhood friend. It was a bit of a joke between them.” But bootleg video on YouTube above appears to show a dismissal – with the elbow chiefly to blame. When Seward put this to Sandow, he insisted he wasn’t aware he had been sent off, only sin binned. We can’t find any record of a judiciary hearing. The title for the Murri Carnival at Redcliffe two weeks ago changed hands when it was discovered the winners, Murri Dingoes Blue, fielded a player who mistakenly believed his drugs suspension had expired. Parra’ refused permission for Joseph Paulo and Bereta Faraimo to play for the US in the Mitchelton Nines on Saturday.

PUNCHING ON 1

WE have often heard this year that “little guys wouldn’t be pushing big guys if they could still be punched”. It was just a theory until the Super League grand final, when little Lance Hohaia pushed big Ben Flower, then lunged at him with a raised forearm. As we know, Hohaia punched Flower twice, the second time when he was on his back, possibly unconscious. They both missed the rest of the game, leaving St Helens to limp to victory as they have all year. Had Flower – who left Old Trafford before fulltime – not opted out of Wales duty, he could at least have counted the upcoming European internationals against what will no doubt be a mammoth suspension. Condemnation of Flower has been widespread and almost unanimous. Soccer star Joe Barton Tweeted he had “little sympathy” for Hohaia because of the provocation, but later stressed he did not intend to defend the Welshman.

PUNCHING ON 2

LIKE Wigan’s Super League campaign, the proud 15-year-plus history of the United States Tomahawks may have come to an end with a punch at the weekend. The USARL is taking over running the game in the US and is likely to dispense with the old AMNRL trademark, meaning it was all on the line when the Americans trailed invitational side Iron Brothers 8-4 with three minutes left in a Nines quarter-final in Brisbane. The Tomahawks got the ball back but sometime-cage fighter Tui Samoa took umbrage to something a rival said and punched him. Water carrier Paulo – banned, as we said, by Parramatta from playing – helped separate them, Samoa was sent to the bin and Brothers scored again to eliminate the US 14-4.

GRACIOUSNESS AND GAFFES

AND what a mixed bag we had for rugby league public speaking at the weekend. On the plus side, congrats to departing Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin, the club’s player of the year Ben Hunt and CEO Paul White for their oratory at the club presentation. “Ben Hunt was entitled to test his value on the open market but he didn’t,” White told around 500 guests. “Although at a backyard barbecue I was at, he did get his message across to me by changing the words of the Status Quo song to ‘down, down, prices are down”. Griffin said: “Whatever I do now, I’ll be a competitor. But I’ll never be a critic of this club or the people in it.” On the negative, St Helens’ Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, at fulltime on live TV: “I’m absolutely buzzing. I could fucking swear”. Yes, he said those words – in that order.

WORLDWIDE LIVE

SOUTHS chief executive Shane Richardson has savaged the running of the international game in Britain’s The Observer. “I look at the state of international rugby league and it just makes me angry,” Richardson – citing the departure of Sam Burgess as a symptom of the problem – said. “I know from the years I’ve spent in the game, and the contacts I’ve made in business, and the places I’ve been around the world, that there’s a potential to do so much more.” Nevertheless, Greece played their first home international at the weekend, beating the Czechs 68-16 in Athens, the Philippines defeated Vanuatu 32-16 on remote Santo and Norway were preparing to meet Thailand in Bangkok. Next weekend, Latin America faces Portugal and Fiji takes on Lebanon, both in Sydney while Tonga take on PNG in Lae and the European Championships commence.

RETIRING ON A HIGH

REPORTS of veteran rugby league photographer Col Whelan’s retirement were greatly exaggerated last year. The NRL weren’t quite ready to take over Col’s operation and he went around in 2014 for one last season – wearing a South Sydney cap to every game. NRL rules prohibit media from wearing club merchandise but the media areas are full of uniformed club staff posting on social media, an inconsistency the irascible snapper sought to highlight. At fulltime on grand final day in the bunnies rooms, players became concerned Col had stopped shooting. He was crying with happiness. At the Red and Green ball, Whelan presented every player with a disc containing 120 photos of their life-defining triumph. What a way to go out – enjoy your retirement, Col.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

World Cup: UNITED STATES 32 COOK ISLANDS 20 at Memorial Ground, Bristol

By STEVE MASCORD

AFTER 60 years of false dawns and half a decade of bitter civil war, American rugby league celebrated its finest hour in a midweek West Country rain squall at Bristol’s Memorial Ground.

When Mike Dimitro’s American All Stars toured Australia in 1953, there were overtures for the United States to be invited to the first World Cup – in France – the following year.

Their eventual exclusion became the first of a litany of snubbings, missed opportunities, hair-brained schemes and outlandish promotions for rugby league in the land of hype and glory since.

But when the Americans finally made it to the Coup Du Monde on Wednesday, they made their mark and declared afterwards there was finally something to build on and end the bitter internal wrangling and cycle of disappointment.

Late tries to prop Mark Offerdahl and halfback Craig Priestly secured a 32-20 win for the Tomahawks over a Cooks side including NRL stars Drury Low, Issac John, Dylan Napa, Brad Takairangi, Dylan Napa and more.

“To be honest, it’s probably the proudest win I’ve been involved with,” said Penrith’s Clint Newton, who as the son of golfer Jack was born in Myrtle Beach.

“Everyone thought we were just here to make up the numbers.

Key figures in American league had roundly criticised the number of heritage players selected by the Tomahawks, with incumbent captain Apple Pope missing the squad altogether.

Coach Terry Matterson and players called on the detractors to support them now the Tomahawks off to a winning start. “if they could just be here and see the bond the boys have built,” said Matterson, “it’s amazing”.

Newton added: “USA Tomahawks needed to field the best possible team to give it the exposure it needed to hopefully grow the game in the States.

“By that result tonight, hopefully people will say ‘this is something we can persevere with.

“I’d like to think (critics) will get behind us. Instead of throwing the knives in, let’s support it and be positive.”

When five-eighth Takairangi scored after only only six minutes, the portents were not good for an American team drawn from everywhere between the NRL and Hawaiian rugby union.

But winger Bareta Faramaimo dashed over off halfback Priestly in the 13th minute and then former Parramatta and Gold Coast winger Matt Petersen took his chance on the other side of the field.

Canterbury’s Low tied it up at 10-10 for the break and, as was the case the previous night with Tonga, Cook Islands seemed destined to win comfortably.

But when Tomahawks captain Joseph Paulo dotted down after regaining a kick a minute after the resumption of play, it was clear the US were not willing to fill the role of unlucky losers.

The sides exchanged tries before the moments that defined the event: replacement Offerdahl taking captain Joseph Paulo’s pass to score in the 71st minute and then Priestly winning the race to the ball two minutes later.

Cooks coach David Fairleigh said his men “lost some ball control at critical moments. This competition so far has been one of upsets.”

UNITED STATES 32 (Bureta Faraimo, Matt Petersen, Joseph Paulo, Tui Samoa, Mark Offerdahl, Craig Priestly tries; Paulo 4 goals) beat COOK ISLANDS 20 (Brad Takairangi, Drury Low, Lulia Lulia, Domique Peyroux tries; Rapana 2 goals) at Memorial Ground, Bristol. Referee: Ben Thaler (England). Crowd: 7247.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

 

DISCORD 2014: Edition Two

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD
PEACE negotiations between rugby league’s warring bodies in the United States have collapsed, with one club posting a statement describing the AMNRL – which sent the popular USA Tomahawks to the World Cup – as “defunct”.
An AMNRL source denied this but Discord has been told that a peace deal was agreed upon, only for last minute complications to scupper the arrangement. It appears the USARL feels it is in a dominant position and has decided to finish off its rival.
The AMNRL has vowed to fight on, while the USARL promises major announcements in the coming weeks – even though it is not the officially recognised body for the sport in America.
NY Raiders posted the following statement on its site in the last day or so:
“We, The Raiders, an American Rugby League Football Club, based in New York, former member in good standing of the now defunct AMNRL, today declare our neutrality from any and all self appointed, unelected, officers, officials, negotiators, organizations, agents, governing bodies or their affiliates,” it said.
“This decision derives from continuing inter league politics detrimental to the sport and our team. Neutrality aside, we reserve our right play and remain committed to competing in the upcoming 2014 Rugby League season.
“We strive for a forward thinking, transparent, inclusive governing body manned by elected members willing to produce a structured, viable business model for our sport.”
Apparently the Raiders did not respect the independent commission set up under the peace deal – a peace deal which has fallen through anyway. The other new country in last year’s World Cup, Italy, also has a divided comp.
It’s a mess – and exactly the sort of behaviour that gave birth to rugby league in the first place.
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IT’S a relief that Newcastle have sacked Russell Packer.
But the way the Integrity Unit does its business these days, does the action (or inaction) of the club really matter? Is there any use “standing by” a player who is never allowed to play?
In the cases of several pre-season incidents, the Integrity Unit probably still has plans. What happens if there are several players and officials at the same club, even if it’s not the club’s fault? Can the club still be held accountable?
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SUPER League is reportedly close to announcing a naming rights sponsor.
But there is still uncertainty over the structure of the competition beyond this year. In the last month, Bradford’s entire board has quit before returning and London needed to be saved at the 11th hour. They are still trying to piece together a team for 2014.
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THANKS to those who commented regardling the first column of the year, which concerned itself with nines rugby league and whether former greats add or detract to the concept.

read on

BONDI BEAT: November 2013

RUGBY-LEAGUE-WORLD_NOV-13By STEVE MASCORD
ON a crisp, sunny January day in Manhattan, your correspondent walked into the headquarters of a finance company on Park Avenue and sent a text to one Curtis Cunz.
Five minutes later, a giant of a man emerged from an elevator, shook my hand and escorted be to a 42nd floor boardroom with sweeping views of New York City.
Curtis was a front rower with the United States Tomahawks. If there was one word to sum him up, it was pride. Cunz was clearly steeped in rugby league culture, dropped the odd Australianism but above all was thrilled to be going to the Rugby League World Cup and representing America.
He offered me photos from his home on the other side of the Hudson River to go with my story. He was aware that his image was positive for the game in America during a time of disharmony – a successful, young corporate high flyer who was also super fit and believed in the future of the game Stateside.
Cunz had remained loyal to the AMNRL when the breakaway USARL had emerged. The US captain, Apple Pope, had even stood down from his club – ‘rebel’ leaders Jacksonville – to keep his position.
Yet nine months later, when the US team for the World Cup was selected, Curtis wasn’t in it. Nor was Apple.
On Facebook, Curtis told his friends: “speechless…….. I’m done. Good luck to all my mates and congratulations. It was fun … playing in every game to get us this far”.
The week before, in Italy, there was a similar reaction from local players when the likes of the Minichiellos, Anthony Laffranchi and Craig Gower.
As is the case in America, the antagonism was magnified by the fact there’s a rebel competition with long standing enmities already in place.
Domestic players v foreign professionals in an era of huge disparity between the strength of our top three countries and everyone else: what’s the answer?
This is one of those rare issues where it’s not idealism v pragmatism. One can reasonably argue that one has rugby league’s best interests at heart either way; a team of overseas-based players means a competitive side but a team predominantly made up of domestic players encourages development and grassroots.
One answer would be a quota of domestic players. After all, you need to have domestic activity even to take part in World Cup qualifiers.
But the quota was ditched before the 2008 World Cup when Tonga threw up the possibility of legal action because it was unsafe to pit local amateurs against battle hardened pros. They said it was a health and safety issue.
If you’ll remember, the Tongans played hardball that World Cup, FuiFui MoiMoi and Taniela Tuiaki taking legal action aimed at overturning RLIF rules so they could switch from New Zealand and play in the tournament.
A quota system would also guarantee the New Zealand Warriors a minimum number of spots in every Kiwis World Cup squad – a situation which would be patently ridiculous.
It’s OK to say Italian and American selectors should have “looked after” domestic players. The Americans picked more of them than Tonga. What you need are rules that apply to everyone equally.
Let’s not forget the Americans were kept out of previous World Cup by a Samoan side bolstered by players who had freshly transferred their loyalties from New Zealand.
So to suggest the Tomahawks should have kept faith with the players who got them into the tournament is a little naïve – once bitten, twice shy perhaps.
Instead, the root of the problem lies in the haphazard nature of our international scene between World Cups. The RLIF seems happy to sit back and let anyone play anyone when most of the internationals below the top level are really just A- or Residents teams.
As a result, the United States team can turn over 14 players from one international to the next, when the truth is those 14 players were not really available for the Colonial Cup against Canada. And the 14 who are dropped after winning a series have every right to cry foul.
Games where foreign-based players aren’t available for selection should never be allowed to be promoted as full internationals because it just sets us up for a credibility nosedive then those stars do come in.
I’m sure Eric Perez and the Canadian Rugby League would not like to be hosting ‘United States A’ or ‘United States Residents’ but that’s what they were. The sooner we have someone at the RLIF protecting the integrity and intellectual property of international football, the better.
If there is not a pause (or end to the season) in the NRL and Super League to allow players to be released, then generally speaking it should not be deemed a full international and Test caps should not be awarded.
In the end, the selection policies of every country at the World Cup, including the United States, will be judged by the results.
If you are snubbing local players, then the men replacing them probably need to be decisively better. We don’t know how the local US players would have gone at the World Cup.
But the men wearing the red, white and blue are now under all sorts of pressure to – as their team slogan puts it – “shock the world”.

FOR the World Club Challenge, a Sydney Rooster-Manly grand final was not a good outcome.
Manly play at the somewhat antiquated Brookvale Oval, where corporate facilities are limited and the sort of dollars necessary to make a profit from flying opponents in from the other side of the globe are hard to come by.
Sydney Roosters have a more spacious home ground but not as many supporters as the likes of South Sydney or the Brisbane Broncos.
And with Gary Hetherington having been the biggest proponent of the fixture moving to Oz, some of that impetus will be lost with Leeds’ elimination on the second last weekend of the Super League season.
Having said all that, Simon Moran and Ian Lenagan are canny businessmen. Could we be headed to a neutral venue in 2014, perhaps in the Middle East or Asia?

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD